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3 Key Attributes of Questions Good Leaders Ask

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

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

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

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

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

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group.  

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

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

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

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Forward Moving

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

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

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

These are all the questions that are forward moving.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Enough Detail

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

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

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Timeline It 

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

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

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Stop Being an Elf

business-coaching-london-client-appreciation-gifts

Everyone knows that Santa gets his job done with a bit of help. It has become common for many businesses to don a little elf hat and help old Saint Nick deliver some gifts to their customers – especially those who are on the “nice” list!

Even if you are not doing it to help the man in the big red suit, it is still a great time of year to celebrate positive relationships – and that includes your business ones.

However, there is a really big opportunity being missed when businesses send out gifts at Christmas time…

While the end of the year is a great time to express your gratitude to clients, why are you only doing this once a year?

We already know that your sales process benefits from having a certain number of step. Equally, when you make the right number of touch points throughout the year with your clients, you can create even closer relationships with them and maintain an even stronger raving-fan community around your business.

In this article, we will look at why you should be more than just an elf. That is, why it is a good idea to reach out more frequently during the year and how best to go about doing this.

The Double Benefit of Regular Client Appreciation

Reminding your customers that you care about them is a fuzzy and heart-warming tradition to uphold in your business. It makes you and your team feel good and it makes your clients feel good.

But what makes it an extra special and beneficial practice is that it also helps with your client retention. Happy clients are more likely to stick with you, buy from you, and refer new clients to you – so keeping them happy is also a great way to maintain a strong bottom line.

It’s a win-win: you get to feel good by expressing gratitude with actions that ultimately also help your business.

What Kind of Gifts Should I Send to Clients?

There are many ways to appreciate your clients. If you have a lot of clients, or limited resources to commit to gift giving, then you can give digital gifts such as gift vouchers for online stores or even something as simple as an email could do for limited budgets.

However, you will find that the impact of the gesture is larger and more recognised when you give something physical. I would therefore highly recommend figuring out a small, physical gift you can deliver to your clients.

This could be things such as elegant stationery, themed food like cakes or cookies, posters or paintings that can be put up, or other regular gift items.

If you can weave in a message or branding in an unobtrusive manner, then by all means do so. However, remember that your purpose here is not your brand marketing. The purpose is to make your clients feel appreciated. So give them something good first and foremost.

If a physical gift is too complicated or difficult, you can also consider organising events that you give your clients exclusive access to. This can do as much if not more to foster a sense of community and can have the added benefit of encouraging referrals if you allow them to invite friends.

How Often Should I Send Gifts to Clients?

When you only send your gifts to clients at Christmas you are Santa’s elf and, while that’s great, elves lose their impact come February. However, if you send gifts out all the time, they start to lose their impact and they start to feel less special.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend having some sort of appreciation touch point once a quarter in order to maximise the effect.

You can switch things up and have different sorts of gifts and/or events each quarter. The variance not only keeps it interesting and engaging, but also ensures that the gifts remain special, and unexpected. You want to avoid becoming predictable so that whenever you do produce a present, it comes as a small and pleasant surprise.

A good idea is to draw up a calendar and look at the holidays, events and other important dates to do with your business or which are important to your prospects. These can help structure the timing of your gifts and help with the selection (or theme) of what to offer.

Genuine Gifts Only

Some people may feel that creating a strategy around gift-giving takes away from the positivity of the gift, as it starts to have “motive”. Let me clarify something: you should not be giving gifts simply because I told you so or because you want to “get more” from your clients. You should be choosing carefully, and giving genuinely.

You should not just be choosing what you give, but also who you give gifts to. This works best if you are honestly giving gifts to people you truly believe deserve them – so don’t just give to everyone. Make sure the gift is really good, and your primary motivation is to appreciate that person, not improve your bottom line.

When do you that, you continue to feel good, they continue to feel good, and you do still get all the extra benefits of improving your business relationship on top of that. It’s a win all around – and you get to be more than an elf: you get to play Santa all year round!

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How To Stop Getting Excuses From Your Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show Transcript »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And therefore the questions like,

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

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

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

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

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

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The 3 Cs of Credibility

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

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

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

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

Share your own insights in the comments below.

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

The Question of Credibility in a Coaching Session

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

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

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

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

The Venn Diagram of Credibility

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

Character 

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

Competence & Connection

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

What I Want You To Think Through

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

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

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

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

Rate YOURSELF – What’s Your Credibility?

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

So speak to you soon.

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3 Tests to Measure the Strength of Your USP

One of the first things successful business owners do is clarify their unique selling proposition (USP). That is, what is it about the service or product that you offer which makes it more compelling than anything else out there?

Fundamentally, it answers the question, “Why should I buy from you?”

I have noticed, however, that many business owners struggle to pin this down. Or more precisely, they struggle to pin down a USP that is actually unique and compelling. And doing this is essential.

The result is that their marketing produces only a trickle of leads, their product development and expansion is haphazard and directionless. The company is constantly yo-yoing as the business owner feels like they are spinning plates while simultaneously putting out fires.

This begs the question, how do you check whether your business’ USP is clear and useful?

I encountered a diagram like this sometime ago and I adapted it to create some simple tests you can use to do a quick check on the strength of your USP.

london-business-coaching-usp-test 

The Grey “Doesn’t Matter” Zone

The first test is the easy one: the grey zone just doesn’t even matter. I mean, who cares what you and your competitors are both doing well if no one even wants it?

First Test: Does your consumer want it?

If no, then why on earth are you doing this? Drop it. Forget about it. It’s taking up valuable headspace.

If yes, continue on.

The Red “Fail” Zone

The next test is the red zone and if you are sitting here, then there should be big alarm bells ringing! If your competitor is serving your customers’ needs better than you are, then something definitely needs to change!

Second Test: Does your competitor do it better?

If yes, then this is certainly not your USP – if anything, it’s theirs! You either need to choose a different USP to focus your business on, or up your game and do what you do better so that you can outstrip the competition.

If no, then you can proceed to the next test.

The Yellow “Unsafe” Zone

The yellow zone is where you are almost there, but this is an unreliable proposition that could slip into the red zone at any moment. You see, if both you and your competitor are satisfying your consumers’ needs, then how are they making the decision to go with you or with them?

Third Test: Are your competitors doing it just as well as you are?

If yes, then you may use this as your USP, but stay cautious. You are deep in the battleground here. Any step backwards is a step forwards for your competitor. Be innovative. Be attentive. Know your customer inside out and sway them to you for emotional reasons, because logically there is quite possibly no difference between you and your competitor.

If no, then…

The Green “Safe” Zone

Congratulations – you are in the green zone! You do what you do better than any of your competitors, and your consumer is hungry for your solution. Your USP is sound.

You should now be focusing your niche and avatar around this USP, choosing your lead magnets, and refining your brand strategy around it. You should be structuring your products & pricing and even your company culture around it. Using it as the foundation for all your decision making will help you steer the boat of your business in a direction of growth and profit.

Does your USP pass these tests? Or are you in need of a USP upgrade? Let us know in the comments below, or let us know any techniques you have for identifying your business’ USP.

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