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

5 Tips to Manage Your Team Effectively

When we coach businesses in London, we realise there’s a common struggle amongst business owners to get their team to work efficiently. However, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. Here are my top 5 ways to keep on top of your team, and delegate effectively:

1. Don’t Be a Superhero

Don’t try and do everything yourself. You know what you’re really good at. For everything else, if there’s someone that can do it nearly as good as you, that’s good enough for now. You don’t lose control, you gain advantage.

2. Start with the Low Skill-Low Fun

Wouldn’t it be great to hire someone to do the important stuff for you, so you can take a break? That’s not the starting point – that’s the goal. Instead, begin with tasks that are in the “low-fun + low-skill” part of your tasks spectrum. Easier to train people for, and it’s cheaper. Remove these distractions and focus on your genius areas.

3. Ensure you Have a Round Peg for a Round Hole When you’re hiring a team, make sure that the person is right for the role they’re taking on. You can’t make a square peg fit in a round hole, and it’s way easier to put a round peg in anyway! Make sure they have the right skills and the right personality for what you’re asking them to do. Then they become naturally motivated to do well.

4. Ensure you Delegate, Don’t Abdicate You’re not giving away work, never to look at it again. Install a system to track the tasks and projects you’re dealing out to your team. Constant training and mentoring will be required from you to help your team become better at what they do. Click here to download the simple (and free) tool that I use to keep track of my team.

5. Record your Work to Replicate it Make sure you’re documenting everything. However, don’t take copious notes; keep it simple. One-pager instructions, checklists, bullet points, how-to videos. Make it easy for someone to learn instead creating a lengthy training course. This way, if your team ever changes, transition will be swift and effortless.

business strategy consulting London If you would like to find out the simple tool that I use to keep track of all the projects with my team, then simply click here to leave your details and I’ll send it right over to you.

And if you’re serious about your business and want to strive to become bigger, then you may want to register for the online webinar.

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Are You a “Got a Minute” Boss?

How do you interact with your team members? Do you find yourself constantly being interrupted with a small task here, a small problem there?

Your time is a valuable resource, so you need to start thinking about how you use it – especially with your team.

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. What I want to talk about today is “Got A Minute” culture. In our business, when new team members come on board, I sit down with them to take them through our value system, mindset principles and I also tell them. ‘By the way, I’m not your “Got A Minute” boss.’ And I get to see some very interesting expressions, generally good ones.  

Imagine you work for Richard Branson

But before I tell you about Got a Minute culture, let me build some scenarios for you and I want you to do some imagining here. I want you to imagine that you are working in Richard Branson’s business. And let’s say you are a Senior Sales Manager in his business. You need to discuss the sales forecast for the next year. And it’s quite important because there are a few things which you are not clear about and you have some thoughts on and you need to sit down with him.  

Scenario A

So let’s imagine Scenario A. Scenario A is where you open the door of his office and you say, “Got a minute, Richard?” And Richard Branson says, “Yes, walk in.” And you sit down, you have a chat with him, you tell him what’s going on in your mind and some issues that you were thinking about. Just a lot of things, and you start talking about some other things, one, two, three, lots of stuff has been discussed. And Richard says, “Listen, do one thing. Leave it with me and I’ll come back to you with my thoughts.”  

Scenario B

That’s Scenario A. Scenario B is where you say, “Ok, I need to discuss the sales forecast for the next year, so let me see Richard’s diary…” and you book a nice 30 minutes or 45 minutes session with Richard and you send him the invite so he knows about it. You tell him it’s about the sales forecast for the next year and you also send him the pre-read because he needs to look at some of the figures to be well informed of the discussion in advance. So you send him some pre-read and you, yourself are well prepared and you take proper notes, think of all the possible scenarios and you’ve thought it through. And then you get into this meeting.

Now in that meeting, you’re focusing on sales forecasts for the next year and Richard and you are having a good discussion, he’s asking you lots of good questions and you’re coming up with answers and possible options of looking at that situation. And he’s asking you questions like, “So what do you think about this? What are the pros and cons of doing this?” So a lot of brainstorming happening, but he’s the one who’s asking questions. And with that question-asking technique, actually you’ve come up with some really good answers for yourself, he has also built on top of that and by the end of 45 minutes or 30 minutes, there is good clarity.

You’ve got good input from Richard Branson and you’re done with your meeting and you go out of his office.  

Which Scenario do you want to be in?

What do you think is a probable scenario? Scenario A, “Got a minute, Richard?” Or Scenario B, where you are very prepared for this meeting. I can pretty much say that you have chosen Scenario B. Right?  

What is the situation in YOUR business?

I just want you to pause, just for a second and think it through. What scenarios happen in your business. Is it, “Got a minute, boss?” Or does your team come to you with good preparation, with preplanning, with a proper meeting set in your diary, where you are asking good questions because you’re pretty well informed before the meeting so you can ask quality questions? And so by the time the meeting finishes, it’s not like, “I’ll think about it, leave it with me.” But the team knows exactly what they have to do. Do they go back with a clear sense of direction and execution? Think this through.

And the only thought I want to leave with you is, this: I know each one of us is a business owner, and we are in the process of building a big business. But while we’re in the process of building a big business, remember one thing. You and I, we need to behave in a true sense like a big business. Your time is as important as Richard Branson’s time, and you are the first person who will treat it like that. And that’s when your team and other people start treating your time as a valuable resource.

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You are a Boat!

Do you feel like your team isn’t working the way you want them to? It could be that you aren’t looking at your team the way you should be. You see, you and your employees are not the same vehicles. Employees are like trains, and business owners are like boats. In this video, I’ll explain this analogy and how it can help you think more carefully about how you manage yourself and your team:

 

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. What I want to cover today with you is the difference between an employee and a business owner. And the analogy that comes to my mind is that employees are like trains and business owners are like boats. Let me explain what I mean by that. Your Team Are Trains If you think about it, a train is a very powerful engine, right, it’s a solid mode of transportation. Now if you want this train to reach its destination, we need a few things in place.

  • First – we need to know what is the destination.
  • Second – we need to have a set of very clear tracks for it to reach from point A to point B.
  • Third – we need to make sure it’s the right driver who’s on the train.
  • Fourth – we need to have the right kind of junctions and the right space to make sure that there’s refuelling of the train happening – that the driver is getting proper rest and is focused on the track.

It doesn’t take too long for this train to get derailed. Lack of track, lack of fuel, like of direction, lack of junction – can cause massive derailment or stalling of this engine. So that’s straight. Now if you think about employees in the business world, the questions that should be coming into your mind are:

  • What level of clarity have you given to your team as to what is the destination? How clearly are the tracks laid out for them in terms of systems and structures that they need to follow to reach from point A to point B?
  • How much training is given to the driver so that we make sure that he is capable or she is capable of taking this straightforward at the right speed to the right place?
  • What kind of junctions and what that really means, what kind of reviews, what kind of mid-reviews do you have in your business with your tea? Where you sit down, you guide them, you motivate them, you make them unstuck, you refuel them basically and get them focused on where they need to go.

These are the questions you need to seriously ask to get your team more effective, to make this machine, this engine work with the right efficiency level – that’s how I see it.

But YOU are a Boat

Now let’s talk about the boats – business owners are boats. If you think about the boat and its tracks, the whole sea, the whole ocean is its tracks. There is no set path, right? We don’t know what track this boat is on and therefore the boat does not really have a direction until or unless you as a business owner give this boat a direction, right?

Now if you want this boat to move from point A to point B in this vast ocean with winds and with waves and all kinds of climates and external factors, the first thing again is that you as a business owner need to be very clear as to what’s the destination. Where do you want to take this boat to? Otherwise, it can just bob up and down in the sea, and you can enjoy it for some time but after a point, it will get very boring. It’s just there for a long, long time and you don’t want to be there for a very long, long, long time. You want to move forward.

And the second thing is that for the boat to move forward, what we need to do – we need to harness the external factors – the opportunities that we have, for which we need to get our sales up. And sales in a business sense is your goals, your dreams, what is that that you are trying to achieve – the bigger the sales, the better it is, the more opportunities we can harness. The third thing is, sometimes I’ve noticed that lots of boards get stuck at one place. They’re just up and down and to and fro – because of the anchors that they have.

These anchors are the past experiences – you have some failures or some experiences or baggage that sometimes business owners have which actually hold them back. So very consciously you as a business owner need to let go of most of the anchors which are holding you back and have just a few anchors. Because yes, you will need some rest, some pauses and some relaxation and that’s good but let go of the anchors because that’s what will make you move forward with the right kind of sales.

At the end of the day, it’s about being in the sea, being in the unknown world, enjoying that adventure but also moving forward with harnessing the winds and the waves and letting go the anchors.

So Ask Yourself a Question

So ask yourself a question – how much are you enjoying your business at this point? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing, as far as your trains are concerned and you as boats are concerned? 

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4 Elements of a Good Team Meeting

One of my clients said to me yesterday, “I wish I could grow my business without ever hiring anyone.” Does that sound familiar? If you don’t want to be firefighting anymore, want to improve the communication in your company, or if you need your team members to just do what you ask them to do, then this video is for you.

In this video, you will learn the 4 key features of a good team meeting, and the 4 types of meeting you should be having:

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, hope you’re doing well. I had a busy day today with a lot of coaching sessions and I wanted to capture this today in my blog because I had a very interesting conversation with one of my clients. He said, ‘Shweta you know what, I sometimes wish that I could just grow my business without having to hire anyone.’

Now think about it. This is not a very uncommon pain that exists in a SME business. Hiring talent, retaining a talent, managing the talent, growing the talent. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. I understand that it’s a big subject in itself and there are lots of things we need to look at. However, I want to talk about just one very simple intervention for your team to help them get aligned with what are your focus areas. To actually leverage the collective intelligence that you have in your business and to move the whole team forward in a very cohesive manner.

Team Meetings for SMEs: More is Less

That one simple thing is the team meeting. I have seen people cringing at the very description of team meetings but look, I come from a corporate background and trust me, we never used to like team meetings either. The number of meetings that are required in any business depends on the life cycle and what stage the business is at. Now, in corporate, because they are more established and mature businesses less is more most of the time. But a far as the SME business is concerned, a business which is in a growing phase and has a lot more potential to attain, when it comes to team meetings –more is less. Mark my words: more is less.

Meet, Don’t “Catch Up”

Having a conversation in the cubical, having a quick chat, having a quick smoke together or whatever it is – that’s not your team meeting. You might say, ‘But why do I need to Shweta? I’m always there, always discussing it. It’s a small team I don’t need to do a formal sit down.’ Yes you do. Because what you’re doing is not really a proper review with a purpose and an agenda. It’s a quick catch up.

Four Elements to Having a Good Team Meeting

Now remember there are four things in having a good team meeting. One, as a business owner you need to be very clear, what is the purpose of that meeting? The second, once the purpose is clear, is that you need to be very sharp on what is the agenda of the meeting. The third is what is the time limit. It’s not about a long, nice sit down and let’s have a nice gossip and chat. And the fourth is you limit the number of attendees in that meeting. It’s again, not having the whole company sitting there with you. It’s actually about having the right people sitting in that meeting.

Four Kinds of Meetings

There are also four kinds of meetings that you need to be looking at in your business. The first being, the daily check-in meeting. It’s a quick, stand-up kind of meeting, about 5-10 minutes just to check in. You don’t need to sit down for this. The second one is a weekly meeting. This is a tactical meeting. You look at the techniques, the tactics, the operational stuff. The third one is your monthly meeting which is more strategic in nature.

Finally, the fourth is your quarterly meeting, which you ideally do off site, or you go somewhere outside to review and to strategise. It might sound like this might be too much but remember, if you are fire-fighting most of the time, if communication is the problem in the company, if people are making more or less the same mistakes every time or they’re not doing what you want them to do, basically the potential in the team is not getting utilised the way you would like to see it getting utilised, then trust me: this is the simplest, quickest and most proven intervention that you need to include in your business as the leader.

Ask Yourself a Question

So ask yourself a question every time you get into a meeting. Say, “What do I want my team members to achieve after this meeting?” and you’ll be amazed, just by asking this question, the amount of clarity it will give to you and your team, which will actually accelerate the whole process and progress in your company.

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It’s not as hard, or as complicated as it seems to be one of the top 4% businesses.

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I Would Prefer Not To

I received a mail today from a client’s employee which reminded me of an old story that had puzzled me when I first read it and continues to puzzle me today in very different ways.

It is the story of Bartleby, the Scrivener, by Herman Melville.

In the story, an elderly Manhattan lawyer employs the forlorn looking Bartleby. At first, Bartleby appears to be a boon to the practice, as he produces a large volume of high-quality work. One day, though, when asked to proofread a document, Bartleby answers with what soon becomes his stock response: “I would prefer not to”.

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Soon he is doing fewer and fewer tasks around the office and despite several attempts to reason with him offers nothing but his signature “I would prefer not to”. After a while, Bartleby stops working completely. Tension gradually builds as the lawyer’s business associates wonder why the strange and idle Bartleby is ever-present in the office – he is now even living there.

Sensing the threat of a ruined reputation but emotionally unable to throw Bartleby out, the exasperated lawyer finally decides to move out himself, relocating his entire business and leaving Bartleby behind. Soon the new tenants of the old space start trying to unsuccessfully evict Bartleby until he has to be forcibly removed and imprisoned.

Towards the end of the story, despite access to plentiful food, Bartleby is found dead from starvation, having apparently preferred not to eat.

What really causes our employees to close themselves to change and to Action? How may times do our team members imply “I would prefer not to” and then don’t do something even after committing to do it. Does this attitude in a team reflect on the leader’s own attitude and attributes? Why does a business owner close himself/herself to new ideas and fresh thinking that could massively improve their business? Who really loses when this happens?

In the lonely job of the entrepreneur, why would we choose to not work with others creating win-win scenarios and making a difference bigger than ourselves?

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