Insights Blog

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

6 Steps for a School Manager’s Year-End Review

london-business-coaching-school-children

As the year comes to an end, we find that most business owners naturally take time to reflect on how the year has progressed. Having worked with a few educational institutions, however, I find that school managers sometimes overlook the importance of such an activity. And many do it incorrectly.

You should not do a year-end review just for the sake of it.

Some schools do the exercise just because it is mandated. They end up treating a year-end review like a New Year’s Resolution, and never follow through in the following year.

However, if you follow these 6 steps (which we explain and help actually do at the Strategic Planning Day), you are more likely to conduct a practical and useful review, which is more likely to stick and help further your school’s ultimate goals.

Understand How Your Year Went

The first thing you should do at the end of every year is take a step back and ask yourself how you did in the past 12 months in comparison to your goals in January. In order to do so, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What were your broad organisational goals for your school at the beginning of the year? Were you able to achieve them?
  • Out of the goals you did not achieve, what were the reasons behind their shortcomings?
  • Have your teachers and support staff worked efficiently together over the course of the past 12 months? If there were any hiccups, what were they and where did they emanate from? To address such hiccups, you should consider implementing team management strategies which could help organise them into a cohesive team.
  • How has your educational institution changed as compared to the previous year? What impact has this had on you and the school?

Review Your Current Situation

Once the annual review has been completed, narrow your focus to the present. Look at the last 2 months and conduct an objective review of your achievements and shortfalls. The latter is the most important part of this review – what have you not yet achieved and what is missing in your organisation?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you been able to balance your cash flow?
  • What goals did you have for the last quarter? Did you achieve them?
  • Why were you unable to meet some of your goals?
  • What have you learned from this quarter that you can carry over to the next?

Set Your Organisational Goals

As the manager of your educational institution, it is your role to set strategies for your schools for the next few years. Educational coaches and business coaches in London would largely agree that the best way to achieve your goals is by first defining your long-term plans, which could be for the next 10 years. You can then break them down into 3-year goals and then work out what are the goals you need to achieve in the next year to achieve that.

In business coaching, we often tell our clients that they need to convey their vision to their employees with confidence. Showing short and long-term goals that are promising and achievable creates motivation within teams. This is especially true for teachers, who often wish to be dedicated to their work, but feel like the admin tasks are weighing them down. Showing them how the various administrative work they need to do will achieve goals that will ultimately benefit them and their students is critical to keeping them from feeling jaded about their work.

Remember, although you are running an organisation, you are also managing people who are educating others – the atmosphere and sentiment is one of the most critical aspects in keeping a school thriving.

Develop Your Action Plan

There 4 stages to developing an effective and actionable plan:

1. Categorise

In the last step, you defined the goals you want to achieve in the next year, and now it is time to categorise them. These categories usually emerge naturally, and could include areas such as finance, teacher relations, legal, support services, marketing/prospecting etc.

2. Prioritise

Now that you have categorised your goals, it is time to prioritise them. Choose just one goal from each of the categories that is the most important within that bucket. Those goals will now be the items that you must complete in the next year. Now you have a focus.

3. Define Actions

For each goal, write down a list of action points that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Be cautious about assigning too many tasks to a single staff member – multitasking can often be less productive.

4. Phasing

Now that you have your goals and required actions, you will need to ensure that you do not bombard yourself or your teachers and staff with too much work all at once. To avoid this, spread your actions through the next four quarters so that it is broken down into manageable phases over the next 12 months.

Delegate

If your goals are substantial enough, which they should be at this point for any ambitious educational institution, you will realise that you and the executive staff are unable to do this all on your own. Therefore, you need to ensure that you manage the actions by delegating effectively to various department heads as appropriate.

When you delegate tasks to individuals, ensure that you not only communicate the exact actions they need to do, but also the context behind them. As mentioned earlier, teachers especially need to understand the goals they are contributing to if they are to stay motivated.

In business, we create an accountability chart to officialise each individual’s role in the attainment of your goals. Many educational institutions have found this to be an excellent tool to ensure you keep track of who is responsible for what, and also to ensure no one staff member is overloaded.

Follow Up on Actions and Your Overall Plan

As a manager, you cannot simply delegate to others and leave it at that. Especially in an educational institution where teachers have many different duties, you must ensure that you maintain constant and consistent contact with them to ensure that they are on track to achieving their tasks.

At weekly meetings you should spend a small amount of time discussing the organisational goals. Each member of the meeting should be responsible for a particular goal and give a quick update on progress. This way the whole team is aware of how the entire institution is moving forwards.

If certain goals are lagging, ask yourself – are those goals still relevant and achievable? If so, then find out what is holding up progress – where is the bottleneck? If you are in constant review, you can catch lagging goals before the end of the year and get them on track again quickly.

Following these 6 steps is likely to produce the kind of review and plan that will send you into the next year armed and ready for serious efficiency. Remember that doing a full review of your business will take time and effort, so ensure you put aside a decent amount of time to it. It is time spent now to save so much time wasted later.

Need help with your next review?

business-writing-on-wallEvery quarter, we hold a strategic planning day to ensure that business owners can stay on track and can create useful plans for the following 90 days.

Educational institution managers would be welcome to join us to learn strategies that will help take their organisation to the next level.


Will You Run a Mile in Less Than 4 Minutes?

london-business-coaching-roger-bannister

On 6th May 1954 in Oxford, history was made. After many unsuccessful attempts by sportsmen around the world, Roger Bannister ran the first ever sub-4-minute mile. This was a fine feat and a significant record – one that had taken some time for anyone to achieve.

What made it significant was not that it was thought this feat was “physically impossible”, as was widely and incorrectly propagated (although it was a benchmark that had been unsuccessfully met for some time).

What makes this a feat is that his coach had trained him on relatively low-mileage training by modern standards. His coach must have really been watching and advising him closely in order to achieve such a record breaking speed without miles and miles of training.

However, what is really interesting about this feat – and what any of this has to do with business coaching – is what actually happened after he achieved this elusive benchmark.

Bannister’s superior record only lasted 46 days. His competitor Landy quickly achieved an even quicker time than him on 21 June. And after that, many others began to be able to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.

What was previously thought to be a pinnacle in running speed quickly became an achievable benchmark for many runners.

There are parallels with what happened with business coaching in the UK. Back when I first started, business coaching was largely unknown in the UK. 8 months into doing this, there were only 3 UK coaches in the list of the top 100 ActionCOACHes in the world. I was at position 53.

I quickly climbed into the top 10 rankings and now I have reached the number 1 spot amongst ActionCOACH business coaches worldwide. There are now over 30 UK coaches in the top 100 list – and 5 of them hold top 10 spots.

A few of us strode forward, proving that achieving top status globally as business coaches was not impossible to do in the UK, and quickly others are rising up and reaching for those higher benchmarks.

And you can bet that almost all of them have a coach (or two!) of their own, watching their plays and holding them accountable – doing what good business coaches do.

The point I am making here is that you have a choice. You can either wait for the “impossible over-achievers” to do what everyone thought could not be done, and then realise that you can do it too. Or you can take the reins, make history, and lead your industry to new heights.

With the right kind of advice and strategies, what they think is impossible, you can prove to be possible for everyone.

Will you set your sights on running a mile in less than 4 minutes?

Achieve the impossible with the right start.

As the year comes to an end, people start making “resolutions” for the coming year. However, there are number of reasons that just doesn’t work.

Join the upcoming webinar to learn the best practices of the people who actually do achieve the so-called “impossible”.


Don’t Take Your Next Big Order

business-coaching-london-next-big-job

When you are presented with a different opportunity – the next big order where you are being asked to do something that is not your expertise, but is possible for you to do – it is tempting to just say “yes” when it could make you a lot of money. And if the contract was going to give you a serious profit, why would you not say yes, right?

Let’s say you run a catering company and are meeting with a prospective client who promises you your next big order. For the past few years you have made a name for your company catering for corporate functions. You have a team of about 10 chefs and waiters specialising in savoury finger food. It has been a slow winter with not too many functions to cater for, but now you are meeting with a couple about catering their wedding for about 100 people. You are used to catering for that number but this wedding is a sit-down affair, and what’s more, they want you to do dessert as well.

You have not done this before. You would need to change your entire menu and train your waiters in table service. However, business has been slow with only 4 functions to cater for in the past 3 weeks and only 2 more booked for the next month. So even though it will require a change, you probably think that you need to take the job in order to keep the business from going into the red. It seems like the best option to just say “yes” and get on with it. I would not blame you – but I also would not think that that is a good idea.

In business, especially if you are planning to eventually sell your business, establishing your niche can be one of the best ways to establish a stable and long-term profitable business. When you niche, you become amazing at what you do – and become an “expert”. When you are positioned as an expert, people find it easy to remember and recommend you for what you do. People will find it easy to describe your business when it is well defined. If you offer more generic services, people are less likely to immediately think of you when they hear of a job opportunity that you might be good at.

Going back to the catering company, if you have been doing stand-up corporate functions for years and are then given a networking event for 150 professionals eating finger food, you know exactly what you are doing. You know what food is best served when, and your waiters have been trained to know exactly when to present food and how to present it so that the attendees are impressed with the catering quality. Your processes are in place so it will be a piece of cake, pardon the pun. You know how to do this, and you know how to do this well. Your reputation will get a boost and the host and attendees are now likely to recommend you on to others for catering other similar events.

However, if you take on the wedding job, you are taking a massive risk on your reputation. The processes you have been using so far will need to change and your staff retrained in a whole new way of serving food. You cannot be confident of the outcome, no matter how much you trust your chefs and waiters to do their very best. In any industry word travels fast and a botched job can easily become a black mark that travels with you and could be lethal to the future of your business.

When you turn down the jobs that do not fit your processes or niche you will start to be recognised as a provider for that niche. When that happens, you will start to get more recommendations and a growing reputation from which you can build your business – and a reputation that will drive up the value of your company should you eventually wish to sell the business.

However, you should also not be relying entirely on recommendations and word of mouth to get your big clients. Here are 5 great ways for you to systemise your approach for finding big clients without waiting around for it to happen. Counter intuitively, when you turn down “big” jobs outside your niche, you can find yourself tracking down and winning “big” jobs within your niche, simply by being able to leverage your expertise when approaching them.

While some entrepreneurs find the idea of sticking to a specialisation constraining, if you are looking to create a business that can perform and grow without you, it is really important to become great at that one thing.

The bottom line is choose a niche and stick to it – no matter how “big” the order outside your niche may be. Short-term gain may not be good for the long-term end goal.

Want to understand more of these concepts?

Running a company requires constant learning of tools and strategies to improve every aspect of it.

At our free webinar, Shweta reveals our most successful strategies we have tried and tested during our over 8 years of business coaching in London.


Why Many CEOs Don’t Use Executive Coaching, Despite Wishing They Could

images-1

Success in business is based on strong leadership; a fact that plays heavily on the minds of many executives the world over.  Many business leaders believe that all of their actions should convey absolute confidence, and that seeking outside guidance or assistance shows weakness.  This, unfortunately, is a counterproductive mode of thought in that it places limitations on business leaders.

Recent enquiries into whether business executives seek external betterment, in the form of executive coaching, showed that roughly two thirds of them do not.  However, almost all of the executives involved in a Stanford survey indicated that they wished they could make use of executive coaching.

Why CEOs Don’t Use Executive Coaching

images-2

The situation is somewhat perplexing; the Stanford survey indicates that the vast majority of business leaders are open to executive coaching, and yet roughly 66 percent do not make use of it.  Why, in a large group of strategic business minds, is this happening?  The answer lies in one of two fundamental possibilities:

  1. Perceived Stigma

Possibly the biggest deterrent for many business leaders is that they perceive executive coaching in a negative light. They believe that any request for help will be seen by the company as corporate weakness, and someone who has climbed the corporate ladder to the helm of a company cannot afford to be regarded as weak in any way.

Furthermore, many CEOs and business leaders believe that coaching is merely remedial, and thus the usage of an executive coach would amount to the admittance that there are leadership problems which need addressing.  Here again, if an executive has worked towards a leadership position, that executive will not easily accept the idea that he or she has any leadership flaws.

Both of these factors, and others that contribute to executive coaching having a negative connotation in the minds of executives, should be discarded.  Let us use as an example an industry that depends heavily on coaching for the achievement of excellence; sports.  Athletic talent is certainly a benefit when it comes to success in sports, but the nurturing of that talent by a knowledgeable coach is often the factor that allows athletes and teams to realise their complete potential.

So many sports teams and individual athletes credit their success entirely to their coaches, which paints them in a very positive light.  So, when top athletes believe so strongly in coaching as a key factor in the achievement of excellence, why do certain business leaders shy away from the idea?  Seeking executive coaching should not be seen as weakness, and even weakness itself should not create fear.   

  1. Inconsistent Quality Levels

A second deterrent might be the fact that the standards surrounding executive coaching are somewhat inconsistent.  CEOs who experience bad coaching will refrain from referring their colleagues, which perpetuates the stigma.

However, in business, as with many areas in life, there are companies which represent the upper echelon of service excellence, and those that are less concerned with the quality of their products or services.  CEOs and business leaders wishing to receive a constructive coaching experience should thus research and seek the companies renowned for their coaching proficiency. 

The Impact of Executives’ Hesitance Regarding Executive Coaching

images-3

The aforementioned factors contribute to the statistics regarding business leaders’ hesitance when it comes to seeking executive coaching.  But, if those factors could be magically removed, would the majority of CEOs then turn to executive coaching.  Based on current thought, the answer would be a resounding ‘Yes’. 

Aside from the fact that almost 100 percent of CEOs involved in the survey admitted that they were open to executive coaching, it would appear that CEOs crave many of the outcomes offered by expert coaching.  Among these are:

Removal of the Stigma

This is something that might not happen overnight, but current trends indicate that any negative connotations are well on their way to being neutralised.  Of the CEOs who currently receive executive coaching, nearly 80 percent sought it out under their own steam.  This is certainly important in executive coaching being perceived as a tool to aid performance, as opposed to a remedial tool. 

Discretion Regarding Progress

As any stigma associated with executive coaching is well on its way to being removed, the need for secrecy is no longer as desired as it once was.  In fact, roughly 40 percent of CEOs receiving executive coaching have their results reported to their respective boards.  Such reporting can certainly improve relations between the board and the CEO, but the majority of CEOs are happy with the fact that their ‘progress remains confidential.

Conflict Resolution

Studies indicated that effective conflict resolution skills are of most concern to CEOs undergoing executive training.  This doesn’t necessarily pertain to employees who don’t get on with each other.  Many parts of a CEO’s job are centred on conflict – in fact, many of a company’s difficult decisions land on the CEO’s desk.  Dealing with issues such as stakeholders’ conflicting agendas is an area in which many CEOs are appreciative of their executive coaching.

Succession Planning

Certain CEOs admitted that they require help in the field of proper delegation and internal talent development.  This is certainly an important aspect of business leadership, and one of which boards are particularly appreciative.  Yet many CEOs who are uncertain of this aspect of business leadership are hesitant to admit their uncertainty for fear of showing weakness.   

Intangible Skill Development

Conflict management, effective delegation, mentoring, succession planning and team building; these are qualities that many CEOs use executive coaching in order to strengthen.  However, prolific coaches can strengthen the intangible skills like motivation, persuasion, and empathy, and do so in such a way that these skills compliment and supplement the ‘harder’ skill-set. 

The incorrect perception among CEOs that undertaking executive coaching will lead to them being perceived as weak or uncertain is coupled with the unfortunate fact that some coaches are lacking proficiency.  However, with this perception changing, and CEOs willingly seeking executive coaching, the proficiency level is sure to rise and force underperforming coaches from the market.  In the meantime, CEOs can greatly increase their own skill-set, and their standing in the eyes of board members, by finding and enlisting the services of leading players in the executive coaching field. 

 

This article was contributed by Shirish Agarwal from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

Think you need Executive Coaching in London?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionAs a CEO of a company, you may think you need to know everything yourself, but you don’t.

Having an executive coach is having someone on your team, watching your plays. It’s become a necessity for any business leader. Why not try a session and see if it could be useful to you too?


Recruitment: Biggest Mistake Made When Hiring a New Employee

Many people think that the recruitment process begins when you conceive the need for a new hire, and ends once you sign the contract with your new employee.

However, there is one critical step missed by thousands of businesses. A simple step. If you remember to do this one thing whenever you make a new hire, you are going to save yourself immeasurable time and money. And you are more than likely to have a longer-term employee.

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, and what I want to talk about today is one big mistake that people make when they hire a new team member, or a new candidate for their business.

Why a written planner is crucial

Now, what I very often see is as soon as the new team member is hired, there is a lot of winging that happens in terms of how this person is inducted into the business, into the culture and also into the role.

Now let me make it very clear, and I’ll say the way it is. If you do not have a written down planner for induction, for your new hire. The chances are that going forward, this person will actually end up guzzling a lot of your time, a lot of your energy and most probably even money, business money as well. Because the person is not settled into the role, and will constantly need your interventions.

And that’s not the purpose, that’s not the reason why you get somebody on board. So it’s a very straightforward way of having an induction planner, you say; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 to Day 5, or Day 10 depending on how long you want your induction process to be.

Outline what your new team member should do on day one

And you pretty much split it into AM to PM, and you detail out, you say what are the things you want this person to do on day one? Is it to sit down with the MD, going through the culture of the company, the value systems, the history of the company. Is it about going through health and safety manuals? Is it about signing the employment contract?

You think through things in detail, you map it out for the person to follow a structure. At least for a week, so that you know you’ve covered all the phases and all the annuals of the business. Whether it’s different departments induction, it’s about marketing, website?

Bring in your other team members to help this person out

As I’m saying, the documents leverage the existing manuals, the videos, the website, online material. And leverage other people in your team to help this person understand more about the company, more about the functions and also about the role. But you need to have a written induction planner, because yes it will take a little bit of effort first time, but this is what will give you leverage forever in your business.

Want more leadership strategies?

If you would like to start running a team that is motivated and efficient, then you may want to attend our next free webinar.

In these workshops Shweta explains some of the latest leadership strategies we have seen work with our clients.

Call Us