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

4 Ways To Engage With Your Team

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One of the most overlooked obstacles to a business’ success is the engagement of its workforce. Engaged employees are what we like to call “unlocked” – they are more likely to go the extra mile for the business, be more loyal, as well as breed a more positive workplace environment for the whole organisation. In short, engaged employees mean all the cogs can turn smoothly.

A recent study of British employees showed that only 36% of the workforce in the UK is highly engaged. This means that the remaining 64% ­– which could very easily be sitting in your business – remain uninterested in doing their job to their full potential and are impeding the company’s growth and success.  A disengaged workforce has the ability to undermine the best of business plans and strategies.

We have seen it happen before. Here are 4 actions you can take to interact with your team and cure their disengagement.

1. Showcase a high level of leadership

At the heart of an effective workforce is an individual who showcases the highest levels of leadership, regardless of the size of the team. The foundation of a strong leader is the ability to communicate effectively and consistently. Set the business direction and sell it in to your workforce.

If your employees do not know which direction the business is heading, they will not be able to alter their behaviours accordingly. Furthermore, ensure that there is reciprocity in the communication – foster the culture that your employees are able to come to you with ideas. Giving your employees some ownership in the business’ direction and processes is a pivotal step in ensuring workforce engagement.

The best way to do that is to ensure that you are managing your team effectively. You can download some further tips plus an easy (and free) system for managing a small team’s tasks here. Additionally, ensure that you help your employees understand the purpose and meaning of their work.

Each individual needs to know how their responsibilities are impacting the greater business. As a leader, it is important for you to facilitate a working environment of transparency whereby people can question what they are doing and how it adds value to the organisation.

2. Recognise Achievement and be a Problem-Solver

Employees are more likely to work harder for you if they know that they will be recognised for the effort they put in. As it is much more common and easier for employers to criticise their workforce, the size and manner of recognition for a job well-done is not as important as the existence of it.

If employees know that you care and are grateful of their work, they are more likely to be more productive and engaged in their responsibilities. The key word here is “Value”. If you can make people feel valuable, they will reciprocate by giving it back into the business.

Furthermore, criticism is sometimes necessary for a business’ workforce, however when employees underperform, try to understand the root cause of the situation as well. Your employees will react more positively if you are able to help them work through their issues rather than just be a disciplinarian. As I have recently written, stop giving feedback and instead give feedforward.

3. Build Relationships

People react positively in a workplace when they are in an environment which is conducive to relationship-building. Not only should you foster relationships between employees, but it is also pivotal for the business owner/manager to do so as well.

Building camaraderie in the workplace will allow you to create a unified front in tackling your business’ obstacles. As an employer, you need to realise that each of your employees is unique in their work motivations and styles. Therefore, you should invest time in your employees by getting to know them and, in a top-line sense, understand what makes them tick.

4. Be Future-Focused

One of the reasons why employees re disengaged in their roles is that they are not able to see a future with the business, or do not have confidence in the business’ ability to grow with their personal objectives. Therefore, not only should you foster a positive belief in the business’ direction in the future, but you should also ensure that employees are assured that their personal development is possible with the company. If employees are able to see a future with the company and know that they will be able to grow with it, they will have no reason to disengage.

However, you also need to ensure that you make your employees understand the link between what they are doing today to what the business is aiming to achieve in the future. Finally, make sure you do not take employee engagement for granted. Just because you believe that your business has all of the above, you will still need to ensure that you monitor your employees’ satisfaction and beliefs toward the company.

Many organisations do so through satisfaction surveys. This is all well and good, however when conducting surveys, ensure that you act on what has come out of them, and that you are not treating them as an easy KPI to tick from the list. It is the actions you undertake between the surveys that are what matters, rather than actually conducting them.

It is easy enough for some businesses to comment on employee disengagement as a generational trait or an individual’s own issue, and in some circumstances this might be the reason. However, the organisation is the entity responsible for providing a work culture which gives its employees every opportunity to engage in the business – and you are the organisation.

Looking for more advice managing your business?

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How to boost your productivity at work

London Business Coaching Productivity At Work Making the most of your time at work is essential – after all there are only so many hours in the day. In the typical working day there’s a lot going on, from emails, meetings and phone calls to people ‘just popping by’ for a chat – if you don’t manage your time it can feel like a day wasted. If you want to be more productive you have two choices: work harder or work smarter. How you manage your productivity at work can be simple and extremely effective. Here are our top tips for boosting your productivity at work:

Keep tabs on the time

10 minutes can feel like an hour at times, so gauging the time you are spending on tasks is a difficult task in itself and something that a lot of people are awful at. There are now apps that track the time you spend on different tasks per day, allowing you to readdress your work balance and target where needs improving.

Set deadlines

Self-imposed deadlines make for a more manageable workload – we all have that ever-growing to do list. Setting deadlines helps you to focus and meet your goals, however tempting it is to push things back and move one thing from one week to the next. Have some self-discipline and make sure you don’t.

Stop multitasking

It’s a well-known fact that multitasking is an invaluable skill to up your productivity. However, realistically, it’s a skill that most of us don’t have – and so this so-called productivity enhancer “multitasking” is a lie. Trying to concentrate on too many things at once and flitting from one task to the next can result in lost time and productivity. Commit to a certain task and get it done before you move on to the next one.

Take regular breaks

It may sound counterproductive, but taking regular breaks can actually increase your concentration levels and productivity. Taking a break when you feel you need it is one of the best ways to stay productive. Leaving a task and coming back to it with ‘new eyes’ and a fresh perspective has been proven to give you a more consistent level of performance throughout the day instead of peaks and troughs.

Stand ups

Everyone knows that meetings can be boring, you can find yourself dozing off, staring out of the window or doodling aimlessly on a notepad. According to an infographic by software developer Atlassian, the average worker attends 62 meetings a month and around half of those who attended considered their time wasted. One way to get around this is standing up. Standing meetings or stand ups tend to be quicker and more focused (around 5-15 minutes). The discomfort of standing is proven to result in improved levels of concentration, whereas the ‘community feel’ often equates to higher levels of group participation.

Keep on top of emails

Do you feel like you’re constantly drowning in a sea of emails, forever trying to get them down to zero? On average there are 304 emails sent per week and, according to research from Atlassian, the average office worker checks their emails 36 times an hour. This then results in 16 minutes of time spent re-focusing on what they were doing beforehand. Emails are important but don’t let them dictate your day: make sure you get what you need done before you dive into that inbox. Dedicate a set time to have a clear out, and from then on make sure you stay on top of them; unsubscribe to anything that isn’t useful, delete the old and deal with the new.

Minimize distractions

Perhaps the main productivity problem is distractions. One minute you’re quickly checking Facebook, the next it’s been half an hour and you’re on a friend’s brother’s best friend’s photos from 2008. Atlassian’s infographic shows that the average employee encounters distractions 56 times a day, that 3 minutes is the average time spent on a task before switching to a new one, and the recovery time from a distraction is a whopping 2 hours.

Sometimes the allure of an email, a text, or a quick scroll through your social media accounts is too much to resist, so start by turning your phone off (or at least turn off the notifications). Instead, build in specific time to check your messages (lunch time), as interruptions no matter how small they appear to be produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity.

If you feel like you need to increase your productivity, you can either add more to that to do list or you can adopt the work smarter approach and make the most of your time at work.

By Melanie Luff, staff writer for BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis. Melanie writes for all titles in the Dynamis Stable including PropertySales.com and FranchiseSales.com.


How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 4, “Accept”

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Over the last few weeks, we have discussed something called the Pie of Change, an idea that was taught to me by my business coach, Marshall Goldsmith.

We have talked about Slice 1, “Create”: The Fun One, Slice 2, “Preserve”: The Inconspicuous One, and Slice 3, “Eliminate”: The Rotten One.

In this final instalment, we look at the last piece of the pie, where there are the negative parts that you have to keep – the “Accept” slice. Business Coaching Services 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

The “Create” slice was all about discovering the areas where you can improve yourself. The “Preserve” slice was more about reinforcing the bits that are already helping you achieve success. The last slice we talked about, “Eliminate” was about taking a closer look at the systems you are currently working and remove the ones that are not actually helping you and your business grow.

Slice 4 “Accept”: The Difficult One

Far and away, the Accept slice is the hardest one to swallow. Almost all my business coaching clients have trouble with it. It’s the one that you know is not the best slice of pie, but you have to eat it anyway, whether you like it or not. Most driven and successful business owners do not like to hear the word acceptance. Mainly because they see it as giving up, as defeat by another name, or that it is something that is “unachievable”.

Really driven people do not believe that there is anything unachievable – just not achievable yet. So much so they will drive themselves into the ground and try to do too many things at once in order to fix things that cannot be fixed, and forget to live their lives. In the end, the other slices are relatively easy to understand, especially in business.

Creating means inventing new ways for the business to grow and make profit. Preserving is protecting the core part of the business and ensuring survival. Eliminating is about dropping systems that no longer make sense. Accepting is the one most of our business coaching clients struggle to grasp.

Know When You Cannot Make A Difference

One of the first things I do as a business coach with all my clients is teach them how to build a dashboard for their business and how to monitor it. Every business will have a different dashboard full of particular metrics that give a pretty good indication of how good or bad the business is doing. Testing and measuring is one of the clearest ways to make decisions on what to create, preserve, eliminate or accept.

However, accepting is not something most business owners do when looking at their numbers. Even when I have access to the same data as them, most of my business coaching clients always believe there is a way to improve. We naturally want to believe that we can do better – we are naturally optimistic rather than realistic when it comes to our own ability.

The business owners who end up with the most growth are keenly aware of the situations where they are powerless and where they are weak. They are aware of the elements of their identity, and they know when to slow down to achieve more consistent results.

Most business owners however, do not want to hear that they are ever ineffective – in fact, most people in general do not want to hear it. When we do, we often reject that notion and act out, determined to find some way to be effective. The result is that we usually end up doing even more damage through our non-acceptance.

However, more often than not, if we accept the things we cannot change, we can let those parts go and focus our time, energy and brainpower on the parts we can do something about. As the serenity prayer goes, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Action Point

This is an exercise that you can do alone, or you can do with your entire team. It is a pretty simple exercise. All it requires is for you to make four decisions. Right now, choose one thing that to create, to preserve, to eliminate and to accept. That is all – just four things. Limit yourself consciously. Peel it all back to the most important thing for each slice of your pie.

As you come up with these, make sure that you are doing it in the most effective way possible. That is, make sure you are using the SMART system – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Result-Driven, Time-Bound.

Believe me, sit down and challenge yourself and your team on this and you are more than likely to be surprised with the clarity and simplicity you can achieve. Ultimately, this will leads to a more efficient and stress-free way of running your business and your life.

Need more exercises for you and your team?

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How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 3, “Eliminate”

Last week we explained the second of the Pie of Change, a concept taught to me by my own business coach. Last week was Slice 2, “Preserve”: The Inconspicious One and before that we did Slice 1, “Create”: The Fun One. This week, we will take a look at the slice where we change the negative things in our business – the “Eliminate” slice. Business Coaching Services Pie of Change Eliminate 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 have talked about the “Create” slice, where you choose the best parts of yourself that you want to make better. We have also talked about the “Preserve” slice, where you take a look back at what you have done and pin down and reinforce the best things you have already achieved.

Slice 3, “Eliminate”: The Rotten One

For this post, we are going to explore one that is a little uglier to deal with. This slice of pie is actually one you will not eat. Instead, you will take a close inspection of the filling and realise this slice is rotten on the inside and needs to be tossed out. The downside of Preserving is that you could fall into the trap of becoming very busy maintaining a comfortable, mediocre business – one that is less exciting and has a much smaller impact than you can and want to make.

We have talked before about getting stuck on a hamster wheel of hard work – getting lost in the “doing” of the business. When something is working you want to continue doing it, right?

Eliminate When Things Are Good

When things are bad in the business, it is easy to eliminate things. When you notice a bad habit, or a system that is not working then yeah, it can be blindingly obvious that it needs to end, and you naturally take that step. This is not the kind of elimination we are talking about here. Here we are talking about sacrificing things that, at least on the surface, look like they are not doing much harm or that you may even think are working.

Have you ever moved house? Or even just rearranged the furniture in your room? If you have, you will understand how tormenting and yet liberating it can feel to throw out old things that are not useful to you anymore. The torment is there: I know I have not used it in three years, but I may need to; I have a strong emotional connection to it even though it is actually stunting my growth; maybe this is the secret to my success. However, when you do finally toss it out, you realise how much clearer your space is – and notice the areas in which you can improve.

Your Action Point

Do a full audit of all the systems in your business. All of these things that are going well – they are functioning, maybe even without you – and do a full analysis of the outcome of these systems. Compare the value your business is getting from it to the cost in terms of resources (remember, your time, and your employees time is one of your most valuable resources). Be honest with yourself and be hard on yourself: what are the things you need to eliminate now so that you can free up room for your business to grow? What are the busy cycles you have gotten trapped in, and how can you escape them?

As a successful business owner, you may say to yourself, “What should I eliminate?” and come up with no answer for yourself. That is when you need to take out a magnifying glass and really check the quality of your work.

Next week, we take a look at the final and most difficult of the slices of pie: Accept. Click here to read it.

Not sure how well your business is doing?

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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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