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How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 2, “Preserve”

Last week we started talking about the Pie of Change, a concept that my coach Marshall Goldsmith taught me. We examined the first slice, “Create”: The Fun One. The slice we are going to examine this week is the one where you have positive changes that you want to keep – the “Preserve” slice. Business Coaching Services Pie of Change Preserve First, here is a quick recap on what these different slices of pie – representing the different options to consider when enacting behavioural change – mean:

  1. When there are positive things that you will need to change so that they can be introduced, these are things you “Create“.
  2. Positive things you already have in your life and are worth keeping are the things you need to “Preserve
  3. Negative elements of your life that you can change is where you need to “Eliminate
  4. Finally, the negative parts that must be kept for whatever reason is when you need to “Accept

We talked about “Create” in the last blog post, where I explained how that slice is the fun slice – the one that excites most business owners. It is the slice where you get to choose the parts of yourself or business that you want to make better and go on a journey of self-improvement. That always feels good.

Slice 2, “Preserve”: The Inconspicuous one

Where Create is the fun and exciting slice of pie, the Preserve slice is the less obviously delicious one. While the filling is still quite scrumptious, it does not look so special on first glance. However, you soon realise, this is one of the most fulfilling parts of this whole behavioural change exercise. To most of my business coaching clients – to most successful people – the words “change” and “preserve” sound like opposites. In a sense, they are.

But preservation of what is already going well is a critical component in changing to do even better. This is not something that most successful people do or even think about on a regular basis. As I mentioned before, the Create slice gets business owners excited. The very same instinct and passion that gets them excited about that slice is what seems to reduce the flavour of the Preserve slice of pie.

Change Your Preservation Mind-Set

Most business owners with thriving businesses believe that their success was built by constantly improving themselves. If they come to a fork in the road and one side leads to being great and the other fork leads to being even greater, they will take the latter fork every time. The risk with this mode of operation is that when you chase greater, you can accidentally leave behind some of the really desirable things that you have already created.

The most common problematic mind-set I have encountered in my years business coaching is when business leaders believe that preservation is equated with stagnation. Instead, you should think of preservation as reinforcement of positive elements – of sustaining stability – so that as you enact other changes you do not lose those good qualities. I was recently talking to a friend who wanted my advice as a business coach. She runs a small cafe and was having difficulty with the new branch she had opened. “Customer feedback is saying that the quality of my signature French toast at the other store is inconsistent.” Asking her a few questions I quickly realised that my friend had opened her new cafe after a booming success of her first one, due to her unique way of making French toast. She thought expanding into a new area was the best way to generate quick growth, and had set it all up quite quickly to take advantage of the summer season.

However, in her new store, while she had hired some talented chefs and given them the menu, she had not directly trained them in how to make her very unique signature dish. You can see where I am going with this right?

She had not taken the steps to carefully preserve the part of her café that had created the greatest success and, as a result, had not succeeded as dramatically as she should have in her new location. I told her about the idea of learning from McDonalds, that I previously wrote about here. It is about creating systems for the parts of your business that work, and generating processes that allow those parts to continue running, while you focus your efforts on enacting change elsewhere.

The same thing goes for your personal, behavioural change. As you focus on creating new parts of yourself, make sure that you have systemised and reinforced the habits and behaviours that have brought you your success.

Your Action Point

Eating the preservation slice is actually one of the most rewarding and touching exercises that I do with my clients. If you are considering taking steps to change things and become greater, first look back at what you have already accomplished. Take a close look at your business and write down one thing that you and your employees do really well.

It might be having a fantastic company culture and how everyone interacts and helps each other. It might be a particular product that is the absolute best on the market. It might be the way your customer loyalty is earned through immaculate support. It may be difficult to pin down just one, but I urge you to choose just one thing.

Write it down on a post-it note and stick it up on the wall near your desk. Remind yourself every day that that needs to be preserved – because it is that one thing that will be worth keeping, no matter what else happens.

Next week, we take a look at one of the more difficult pieces of the pie to swallow: Eliminate. Click here to read it.

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How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 1 “Create”

Successful leaders usually believe that they do not need to change that much. After all, they are already successful. However, while they have many things going for them, there are often just a few areas in which their behaviour needs adjustment – and those few areas impact their overall image in other people’s eyes.

In business coaching, we work directly with business owners – the successful leaders of businesses that are doing well. These people come to us because they want to do better. They want their businesses to achieve more. They believe that they need to change their behaviours in order to make that happen.

While it is true that there are a number of deeper areas of identity to consider, the truth is, most of the time, there are behaviours that need to change. What most business owners do not realise is that changing behaviour is rarely easy – but it can be a lot simpler than they think.

One of my coaches, Marshall Goldsmith, explained a useful concept for this that I like to call the Pie of Change. Business Coaching Services – Behavioural Change Pie of Change This is a chart that I have used with many of my business coaching clients and it always produces some excellent results. This pie is divided into four slices along two axes. One goes from “negative” to “positive” and the other goes from “keep” to “change”. When you map out your behavioural change this way, we can see that there are 4 options you need to consider:

  1. When there are positive things that you will need to change so that they can be introduced, these are things you “Create“.
  2. Positive things you already have in your life and are worth keeping are the things you need to “Preserve
  3. Negative elements of your life that you can change is where you need to “Eliminate
  4. Finally, the negative parts that must be kept for whatever reason is when you need to “Accept

In this series of blog posts, we will explore each of these options and how each of them are necessary – while one of them is the most difficult, especially for driven business owners.

Slice 1, “Create”: The Fun One

This is the part of the pie that got the best of the filling and almost every business owner hungrily gobbles it down. This is where you get to imagine the parts of yourself that could be better and work on moving towards that. As a business coach, I have observed how most of my clients really light up when I talk about this idea. That is because the instinct of almost any driven and successful business owner is to constantly improve – constantly do better (which is not always a good thing – but we will talk about that in another slice of this pie).

The irony is that the urge and instinct to create is not something that comes naturally to us. Most human beings find it difficult to accept change – so many of us get comfortable with doing more when, really, we need to start being more. When something has been working long enough, we tend to become satisfied and comfortable. There is no real pressure or urgency to achieve more, so why would we put in that effort?

The Challenge of Creating

Here is where the challenge in eating this slice comes in: create positive change in your behaviour by choice not necessity. When sales are down, making changes to your business in order to generate more sales is a change you are making out of necessity.

However, if your sales are steady and your business is quite comfortably surviving, that is when you can take a look at making changes to generate even more sales, which takes you to a whole new level of success. “Creating” is about focusing on improving the things that are already doing well.

Your Action Point

Of course, this is not limited to just your behaviour in business. The opportunity to make positive changes to your behaviour can be found in every aspect of your life – from improving your health, to changing the way you treat people, to your lifestyle habits. The exercise of behavioural change almost always helps my clients not only with their professional work, but has far reaching effects into their personal lives as well.

Take 15 minutes out of your busy day to stop and think – what aspect of your life could you improve right now? Just choose one thing that you want make better – and make it something that you do not need to make better, but can make better. Choose one thing to improve and, this week, make that change.

Remember, you can read all the blog articles and all the books but all of that knowledge is useless until you take action. Start with just one change.

Next week, we take the next slice of pie out of the fridge where it has been “Preserved”. Click here to read it.

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Be More Google: How a Comfy Chair and Playstation Can Improve Profits

business strategy consulting London
It’s easy to feel the weight of expectation when thinking about building culture into your business. The fantasy working environments of Google or Pixar, the radical management practices of Netflix, or the carefully crafted ‘friendliness’ of Innocent Drinks all feel expensive in terms of planning and investment.

But your company culture already exists. The services your business provides, the people you’ve hired and your shared values are already in place.  So how can you go about making it work for you, and what impact will it have?

Crafting a culture statement

A company culture may well ‘emerge’, but in order for it to be an effective part of your business strategy you need to be able to define and communicate it.  By its very nature, distilling your culture into a clear statement has to be a collaborative process with input from your team.

Start by considering the three core values you hold as the leader of your organisation. Then, working with your management team, have them identify three values for each of the following:

  • Their personal integrity
  • What helps customers decide to do business with you
  • What the company wants to be known for

The resulting list may contain overlaps and similarities. Refine what you have whilst bearing in mind the characteristics needed to fulfil the business’s mission, where your focus should be to achieve success, what qualities you value in who you hire and what traits might conflict with these values. Your final list will form the basis of your culture statement. This should sit alongside your vision and mission statements as the bedrock for your organisation’s operations.

The impact of a strong company culture

Research has shown that companies who adopt a ‘performance-enhancing’ culture can achieve up to six times higher revenue growth than those without. But aside from the bottom line, there are other advantages to being able to define and effectively communicate your culture:

  • Attract and retain better employees, lowering costs and improving levels of expertise.

Your company culture should seek to support professional success, growth and pride in the role staff play. It should also empower staff and enable autonomy. Netflix’s ‘Responsibility and Freedom’ policy may be a little too radical for smaller business to implement effectively but the principles are sound. A good culture will provide the context within which staff have the freedom to act in the best interests of the business and the customer in the moment, whilst still upholding the company’s long-term values.  This loose/tight concept is extremely effective in motivating staff and improving performance.

  • Ability to adapt to change.

Having a clear set of values and practices independent of specific technologies or processes creates a ‘familiar’ environment for customers. This sense of safety means customers are far more likely to come with you when you seek to adapt to a changing marketplace.

  • Encourages customer loyalty and advocacy.

A clear culture creates a consistent customer-experience no matter how they choose to interact with you. In a world where poor service is so rapidly shared, consistency and clarity are keys to customer service success.

The power of your company culture comes from its ability to directly impact your customers’ experience of your business and services. It doesn’t need to consist of expensive planning sessions, grand gestures and sparkling campuses.

A good company culture is one in which your staff can thrive and grow, where autonomy is enabled through a shared vision and where every interaction with your customers makes them feel like a VIP. A well-defined and strategically aligned company culture has the ability to drive all these elements and really set your business apart – which ultimately leads to greater impact, greater profit, and greater success.

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How to Build a Loyal Team

Business Coaching London Team Loyalty

Building a loyal team isn’t as easy as it sounds, and maintaining one is even harder.

Nobody wants a business with a high turnover of staff; this is negative for the morale of existing employees and implies that there is something intrinsically repellent about your company. Ideally, you want staff who want to stick around and who will do their utmost to support your business.

Happy, faithful employees are highly visible (and free!) marketing for your enterprise… so how do you go about building such a team?

Find the right fit

Building a loyal team starts before the point of hire; invest time and energy into finding the right person for your business. This doesn’t only mean skills – it’s also about how they as an individual will fit into the workplace.

A bad hire can be financially detrimental to your business; in a Forbes survey of employers, 41% estimated the cost of a single bad hire as being $25,000, while a quarter estimated the cost to be $50,000 or more.

Finding the right person can be tricky, despite the rise in job applications.

First of all, ask yourself this about each candidate: are they serious about working long-term for your business? Have they shown signs of commitment in the past, or have they got a lot of short-term placements on their CV?

Next, think about compatibility. Would this person fit in well with other employees and clients? Are they easy to get along with? And a team player?

Having the relevant skills and qualifications for a role is important, but without compatibility with your existing team, and business ethos – a candidate’s worth is questionable.

Build confidence in your leadership

If your staff have little confidence in your leadership you will find it difficult to keep the team onside. There are many different leadership styles but there are a few key fundamentals.

Obvious as it may sound, employees will only be fully secure in your leadership when you are self-confident. If you don’t seem certain in your own decision-making, how will anyone else be?

Also, without self-assurance your perceived ‘passion’ for the business will lack integrity. This is equally, if not more, important if you are taking on a business with existing employees.

As the leader of an enterprise you also need to keep learning. Whether it’s specific to the general running of a business or the particular industry you are in, you need to find ways to keep growing, which will in turn allow the business to flourish. Staff who see their leader who is focused on positive growth will, in turn, be infected with that enthusiasm.

Empower your employees

If you keep an employee in the same role with nothing to aim for, they will move on elsewhere. But if you give them freedom, control and opportunities you demonstrate the trust you have in them to do their job and a desire to nurture that they will respond well to.

Offer extra leadership training, or digital marketing courses, or other skill-enhancing programs if appropriate and always ask staff their personal opinion on work-related issues – this way, you are giving them ownership of their own little part of the business. And when you own something, you look after it.

If an employee has a family and struggles with child-care, trust them enough to let them work from home some days – they will feel more fulfilled as a whole, and want to do better for you in response to your understanding.

It’s not complicated – if you want employees to stick around for the long term, make sure that they have a concrete reason as to why they would.

Create a happy culture

This is essentially the communication between management and employees, and employees with other employees. Improving company culture can be done on a day-to-day basis and occasional team bonding events and excursions.

Always make sure you check in with staff on a regular basis – make it your business to know if they have any worries, or, conversely, if they have anything to celebrate or be proud of. Those few minutes of attention and concern will give you an enormous return on investment.

Celebrate birthdays (and make them memorable) and involve your staff in deciding what might be fun team bonding exercises.

“‘Corporate culture’ is a catchall phrase that can be quite vague in terms of its definition”, Kate Harrison, writing for Forbes, says. “So many things go into creating a culture and there is no one-size-fits-all model.” Harrison suggests that there are several ways for businesses to improve their corporate culture – for example; implementing tools like a ‘points and rewards system’ to improve employee motivation; and ensuring that ‘fun’ in the office should not only happen to draw in new talent, but to ‘inspire creativity’.

Loyalty isn’t a given with any employee: you need to work for it. But when you do, you can be sure that you will reap the benefits.  

By Rose Hill, online journalist for BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Rose writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including PropertySales.com and FranchiseSales.com.

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Stop Giving Feedback to Your Team

Feedback is one of the most misused of management concepts. Management Consultants will continually talk of the importance of providing feedback to your team members as one of the essential requirements to running an efficient and profitable business. 

Managing your team is something that has a number of facets, of course. This includes running good team meetings, giving them the right kind of guidance, and helping them manage stress as a few examples.

However, providing feedback has often come up as one of the most difficult parts for many of my clients to get right.

Commenting on your employees’ work is not just about delicately giving constructive negative feedback, but it is also highly effective in keeping your team aligned with the business – which is very important in keeping them motivated.

In this video, I explain a concept that my coach, Marshall Goldsmith, has taught me that will redefine the way you look at feedback.

Have you had trouble with giving feedback? Leave a comment on your main issue with giving feedback and we will discuss how you can start feeding forward instead.

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

Hi my name is Shweta from London Coaching Group. I very often get asked by my clients that what is the best way to provide feedback to their team members. 

Now providing feedback is one of the essential skills of a leader or manager and you need to make sure that the team member is aligned with where the company’s headed to, knows what you or she is doing, what the person is doing well and what the person needs to improve on. Now it’s an exercise which I’ve realized that not very many people enjoy because it’s very tricky to give that positive and also not so positive feedback to the other person. 

There is also a fundamental problem with feedback. It is about the boss. Something that cannot be changed, something that’s static, something that’s limited. World what you to consider going forward is actually you placing feedback with feedforward. Now this is the concept which I was start about my business coach Marshall and I thought I would share it with you.

Benefits of Feedforward

Now there are some very clear benefits of replacing feedback with feedforward. The first one is that successful people, they do not want to know what they’re not doing so well. They want to know the ideas of how they could become better. So that’s the first one.

The second is, that people generally don’t take feedforward as person or other personally compared to feedback. Now we might say that we are providing constructive feedback and it’s all about the performance and not about the person. But let’s face it, the sense of identity is so closely linked with the world that people are doing. That it’s difficult to dealing and then people getting to justifications and defenses go up and it just becomes a very different kind of an exercise compared to what you really wanted to be. So that’s another important benefit.

The other one is that the process of feedforward is a lot faster compared to feedback. A small tip there is rather than talking about the boss and trying to prove that while you’re right and the other person trying to prove why you are not right and getting into a debate and still trying to be soft and trying not to upset the person, feedforward is pretty much like this: “Look, I’ve gone through what you’ve done so far, I’ve got four ideas, four suggestions for you to improve on what you’re doing. You might not want to consider all the four ideas. Even if you consider to our four, you’re two steps ahead. I want you to think through it and once I finished telling you my four suggestions, I just want to say thank you. Or if you can come back and then discuss the ideas that you want to take forward a lot more in detail.” And that’s it. And then you tell them well the four suggestions for moving forward. And people generally are – it’s difficult for them to critique it or criticize it because it has still not happened and you want them to think through it and come back with more detail.

That’s the other clear benefit and as I’ve explained in this process, people tend to listen more closely to feedforward than to feedback. And you can imagine, I’m sure you’ve experience this, that when you’re giving a feedback to someone, they are actually thinking of their response in their head that how are they going to combat what you’ve say. How do they justify that they are right and you might not be that right. 

Finally the way I see this as a leader, as a manager, it’s more productive to help people build themselves than to actually get into that whole struggle of trying to prove a point which is not something that I’m sure you enjoy or you want get into. So, once again enjoy giving feed-forward to people. What is it that they can improve moving forward because done is done. Let’s see what we can do with the future.

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