Insights Blog

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

What To Do With Employees Who Give You Attitude

When your business and team start growing, you may find a ‘problem employee’ emerge. They are usually great at what they do, but their attitude causes some disruption and a reasonable amount of frustration in yourself and the team.

What can you do about it?

There’s a simple framework that helps you get into a slightly unusual way of thinking in business contexts. But if you master it, it can guide you to a faster and easier solution than trying to adjust your employee’s character or attitude.

Before you either leap at firing the person or resign yourself to the fact that this is “just their attitude”, try thinking it through in the order I’ve given you.

Focus on your systems first, then consider how you might be able to adjust the skills involved. Remember, you don’t manage your team you manage your team’s activities – and when you do this effectively, you will see the change in attitude.

Often ‘bad’ attitude doesn’t come from a ‘bad’ character or bad person – often it is a lack of clear direction and passion for what they do. That means you need to set a better culture and introduce better systems.

So step up your leadership, step up your management and give your employees your best so they can give you their best.

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

Hi! this is Shweta from London Coaching Group.

What I want to talk about today is a very recent conversation that I had with one of our clients. And you could make out that the person is not very happy with one of the team members. The client’s frustration was pretty evident.

My Team Member Has An Attitude Problem

The comments I was hearing were things like:
“He’s got an attitude problem.”
“He always behaves like that.
“You know we’ve given him feedback but this is his character and I’m very frustrated.”
“I just don’t know how to go about it though he has been there with us for three years. But everything is falling on deaf ears.”

Now these statements might be familiar to you because of your own situation or from what you hear from other business owners and it actually is very common – this is nothing very unusual. But what I really want to talk about and share with you is a little unusual way of thinking in the business context. And what I mean by that is that when these situations arise rather than gravitating towards people’s character and attitude what is the right way to think through the problem. So you can actually identify relatively easier and faster solution to that problem and move the business forward. 

The Framework for Managing Team Attitudes

Let me share with you a framework which I shared with the client and he found it very useful gave him a perspective. And obviously now he has gone back to review certain things which hopefully will take care of the problem and streamline the overall business. So let’s focus on that, okay.

This is a very straightforward principle which I’ve actually taken from the book called “Principles” by Ray Dalio – a very powerful book. What the framework talks about is that you have set certain goals, right? And obviously you want to have the outcomes at the right level or you can call it results.

Now, what’s in between these two things is your business machine. This is your business machine. Now, your business machine has got two components. One component is People. The other one is Systems. These are structures with which people are working, hopefully.

And then within people there are two broad things. And again it’s just to understand the logic the framework. So within people you have Skills and then their Attitudes, you know their character, their habits. That’s what we’re talking about here.

The First Thing to Focus On: Systems

Now, as I said what people do when there is a problem with a team member is that they straight away go here, to Attitudes. They start talking about the character and the habits of the person. What you need to understand is that it’s very, very, very difficult to change habits, to change characters. It’s very tricky to transform people because these are old habits. It doesn’t work like that. So rather than getting frustrated and trying things which are going to take a long time, ideally what one needs to do is look at the cause of actions in the right order.

The first thing that you as a business owner need to focus on whenever there’s a problem with a person or the performance is to look at Systems. This should be number on. Say to yourself, “What structural change can I make in the business that will take care of this problem?” You’ll be surprised to find that once you start looking at things from that perspective, you do come up with some really simple tweaks and simple structures or system integrations which actually streamline the business. So, that should be the first point of call.

The Second Thing: Skills

Then if you feel the Systems are fine then the second place to look at is the Skills level. It could be that yes we have systems but, actually, the person is not properly skilled or skilled enough to actually deliver the work or the results that you’re after. So look at the training and look at the Skills. This is a relatively easily transferable or a coachable thing to do.

And THEN if the Team Member’s Problem Persists…

So then what happens when you believe that yes, there is a system, and there is proper support and training provided to the team member and still the problem is persisting?

Then it is time to go deeper into it. But in most of the cases that I’ve seen is that if the System and Skills are in place and the problem still persists, this does mean the person’s attitude is not right, and then you might have to let go of this person so they can find the right job for themselves and you can find the right talent for your business.

So with this framework whenever you are having issues with your team person rather than going straight to the Attitude and getting frustrated and getting into personal comments, try to look at things objectively. Focus on Systems first, then look at the Skill levels of the person and what training or support that they need, and only then take a decision as to whether this person needs to stay or leave the business.

I hope you find that useful and in case you need help from someone who understands what she or he is talking about and can help you with your systems and structures and the right organization structure. Please feel free to reach out. Sometimes an outside perspective can really make a huge difference in the business.

Is your team still being disrupted?

As a leader in your business, it really is your responsibility to ensure that the culture, systems and environment are optimal for your team.

If you need to explore some of the strategies we have to offer, consider requesting a strategy session and one of our consultants can read your application and offer some practical advice on what could help your business.


3 Tips to Recruit Employees With Specific Skills

Sifting through candidates in a recruitment process can be a tiresome process.

Too often you end up with someone who talked the talk during the interview but within a month proved that they can’t actually walk the walk.

So how do you pick out the best apples in the bunch during the recruitment itself, rather than having to wait until they’re already working for you to find out what’s under that shiny skin?

Tip 1: Discover Behavioural Styles

We make sure that every new team member, client, and even client’s team member does a DISC profile. It is an integral part of our recruitment process to get them to do a DiSC Behavioural Style assessment. This has proven time and again to be an effective way to match people to a job that suits their style.

Understanding the 4 DiSC styles is important for you as a leader. Once you become familiar with them, you can know what kind of behavioural styles will be important for the skills you are seeking in the role you are trying to fill. Not only that, but you will also be more sensitive to creating an environment that is optimised for your employee’s working preferences.

For example, when one of our clients was looking to hire a new salesperson, they needed to be looking for someone high in “I” – an “influencer” who can think and decide quickly and prefer to work with people. On the other hand, when our client who had grown quickly needed someone to help with the administration of the business, they’re looking more for someone high in “C” and “S”. These styles pay close attention to detail and take things at a careful, steady pace.

Tip 2: Pop Quiz!

The benefit of having your recruits do a specific quiz in the area you are hiring is two-fold.

First, you get the obvious benefit of assessing their expertise right away. When our clients want to hire a marketing person, we give them a Marketing Technology Quiz and the marketing expert at London Coaching Group can give these a quick look and immediately he can see whether or not this person actually knows what they’re doing. We have a Microsoft Office quiz for anyone who is interviewing for an admin role, and a Finance Quiz for accounting or financial roles, and we make this available to all our clients.

The second benefit is that you also gain insight into their work ethic and ability to follow instructions. Did they miss any crucial parts of the questions by not reading properly? Did they follow the instructions on where to put their answers? Did they circle or did they X when they were told to circle? How did they react to being told they had a questionnaire to do? How specific and detailed are they in their answers?

This more ‘meta’ assessment of their answers gives you a much better idea of what they are like as a worker – much more than simply speaking to them. You also get an idea of their clarity in written communication, spelling and grammar.

Tip 3: Give Them A Test Task

Before you began recruiting, you should first have made sure you were explicitly clear about the key activities this person will be doing in your business. If you didn’t, you may need to rewind a little bit and ask yourself the right questions to set yourself up for a better recruitment process.

If you are clear on a single most important task that you need them to be good at, then you should be able to give them that task to do as a part of your interviewing process.

For example, if you’re hiring a marketing person, then perhaps the key skill they need to have is writing – text on your website, social media posts, sales letters and so on. Then why not have them write a sales letter during your interview for one of your products or services?

If you are hiring a new project manager, then maybe give them a small explanation of a real project within your organisation, and ask them to write on the back of that paper a rough sketch of how they’d tackle the project.

For a finance manager, maybe you need them to be able to carefully comb through financial reports – give them one where you know there are clear errors and ask them to audit it.

Ultimately, both the pop quiz and the test task are how you nullify smooth talkers and highlight the hard workers!

Do you have any further ideas on how to recruit for specific skills? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Struggling With Lengthy Recruitment Processes?

If you find that recruitment is starting to feel like a huge waste of time, you probably just need to get more efficient with it.

Our process maps out 4 hours of work that is all you really need in order to sift out the wheat from the chaff.


5 Tips for Managing Your Team’s Shore Leave

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When any holiday season approaches, as a business owner, you may start to feel the rising stress that comes with it. Too often employees go on holiday and that leaves you running around making sure that systems that they are in charge of continue ticking along.

So how do you stop things falling through the cracks?

This was a problem that was brought up in one of our group coaching calls. One of my clients said he felt like he was the captain of a ship. During holidays, it felt like a few of them had gone on shore leave, and he was left trying to steer the wheel, while tightening the rigging and avoiding the swinging boom all at once.

How do we man the decks while our crew is on break? Here are a few tips we came up with.

1. Use Your Telescope: See the Hard Work Coming

The first tip is a bit obvious but one that bears saying. Sometimes you can’t help it – if your admin person goes on holiday then, whether you like it or not, a bit of extra hard work is needed. You need to forecast it and be prepared for when the workload is going to ramp up so that you aren’t surprised by the crunch period.

2. Gather The Crew: Have Team Meeting Before Holidays

While you should be doing regular team meetings anyway (appropriate to the size of your business), you may want to schedule a full gathering of your employees so everyone is on the same page just before the holiday season. Everyone should know who is going on holiday, when they are going, and what tasks will need to be done during that break.

3. Spread Across the Decks: Disperse The Work Amongst Your Team

When the stormy weather hits, you shouldn’t be the only one running around the boat to ensure it stays afloat.

Instil a culture of ‘picking up the slack’. That is, if someone isn’t there, then it should be perfectly normal in your business for your other superstars to help out with the jobs that need doing, even if it’s not specifically in their job description.

A temporary increase in workload across all of your team members is more manageable than one person trying to take on the load entirely.

4. Avoid Empty Cabins: Ensure Your Team’s Leave is Staggered

Make sure that you have some sort of system in place – even a simple spreadsheet detailing out when people are taking leave – so it is abundantly clear who is going on holiday and when.

You can then make sure there isn’t an exodus of people all at the same time when you moor up for the holidays. Then you won’t ever be left alone to tighten the rigging, lower the sail, wash the decks, and keep an eye out for pirates!

5. Take Advantage of Quiet Seas: Relax When Your Clients Are Off Too

When your clients are most likely to be taking a break is when you should also be taking your holiday. Your resources – which includes you as the leader – should be at their lowest at times when your business is typically less frenetic. Then you can ensure your crew is at optimum capacity when the stormy seas hit.

This is what we do in our business – I consciously take my breaks during the months of the year when we know most of our clients are also on holidays. It helps knowing that we have a team who will take care of things while we are away. In fact, the last holiday we took, we came back to find our clients were even happier than when we left!

In the end, this isn’t rocket science – it’s not even as hard as sailing! As a leader, you need to just plan ahead, bring your team together, share the load out amongst them, manage your resources carefully and ensure that even you relax during calm seas so that you’re prepared to face even the wildest of storms.

We Can Be Your Crow's Nest

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionBusiness coaches could be compared to that person sitting in the crow’s nest on the ship. Not so much looking out for coming land or pirates, but more helping you observe how your ship is running from a bird’s eye view – and help point out areas where it could be running better.

Won’t cost you a dubloon to try it out!


Don’t Promote Your Sales Champion

When you have hired a sales person who has gotten your sales process flowing like the machine it should be, what’s the next step?

Most business owners would be tempted to say, “Promote them to manager and expand the sales team to increase capacity.”

Here’s why that may be a mistake:

If you do plan to promote your sales person to a position of management, make sure it’s not just because they have done well as a sales person. Sales and management are two very different roles that require very distinct skill sets.

Your sales person may well have the capability to be a good manager but trial him for that ability and formalise the promotion only once you are convinced. Remember, you want to do your best to set your people up for a win.

Even if they are not suitable for management, if they are a good sales person then create other relevant and meaningful career growth opportunities for them e.g. nature of sales accounts, geography, position titles, salary, bonus, awards, company perks, paid learning courses etc.

The sales machine is critical to your business so make sure you do not promote your sales champion to his level of incompetence. Otherwise, it could be a double whammy!

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

Hi! This is Shweta from London Coaching Group.

What I want to talk about today is a very fundamental mistake that people make in sales. And, that fundamental mistake is when they actually promote their sale superstar to a sales manager.

Now, in the scheme of career progression, and someone doing well and you wanting to recognize that person, it might sound like a common-sensical move, but actually if you were to reflect on it, you will realize that management and selling, they’re two different things altogether. They require a different skill set. They require different profiles.

When this is done just because you want to retain that Sales Superstar and want to promote that person, in that whole process, generally speaking, the person is promoted to his or her level of incompetence. They are no longer delivering on their sales because, obviously, they have management to do. And they are not really skillful at management, which eventually suffers, which means the overall sales division suffers.

So I really want you to be very mindful of this. If you have done something similar in your business or if you’re planning to do something similar, just be very careful. Just identify the fact that, actually, management requires a different skill set from selling.

Your sales superstar should continue focusing on sales and not management until and unless it’s a conscious decision on their part and you both feel that they’re ready for that promotion.

Otherwise, there are different ways of actually recognizing and rewarding the person for their stellar performance in sales. And remember, every business needs a strong sales pipeline and strong sales superstars, so make sure you protect them and nurture them well.

Is your sales process in place?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionOne of the main reasons that business owners start working with a business coach is to create the systems in their business to maximise leverage.

The first and most important thing to do is develop a fine-tuned sales and marketing machine. Find out if our systems may be what your business needs to step up to the next level:

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4 Elements of Superstar Employees

When you go through the 4-hour recruitment process, you may find yourself spoilt for choice with a set of incredibly talented candidates for the role in your business.

The process has cleared the wheat from the chaff, but how do you now find the very finest cream at the top of that crop?

Here are 4 things to look out for that could help you discover the true superstars amongst the collection of talent.

Keep these 4 traits in mind when crafting your questions to ask your top candidates, and watch as the cream floats to the top and you easily pick out your winners.

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

I get this question asked very often saying how do we identify superstars, you know, in the recruitment process when you get to interact with so many candidates. How should you choose and pick that right talent, that right superstar. Now I have read quite a few books on this topic and of course working with different business owners, you know, one gets to interact and experience many many situations. Now, you might want to make note of this, there are simple four things that I look out for when I’m identifying a superstar. The first is that this person needs to have the core talent in the area, in the field that you’re looking for the person to come on-board, right, the core talent is required, the skills is where I am really talking about. Now that’s the base level, people need to have that because especially the business which is in a growth phase you cannot afford to become the training ground for people who have no idea and you’re trying to up skill them. So just make sure that they have the core talent, the core skill in the field.

Then the next level, which is a very interesting level, then which is what starts to actually distinguish real superstars from the talent, the regular talent. The next level is the coachability. The person needs to really be very very coachable and they should be willing to learn, they should be having an open mind and willing to grasp the things that you’re talking about and that’s really required for the superstar. The third ingredient or the element that’s required is the curiosity, and if you think about it, curiosity is the willingness to be engaged in that current moment. The person needs to be curious should be asking relevant questions, should be genuinely interested in what’s happening around this person. And the fourth element which is again a very very critical element is the work ethic. Superstars have amazing work ethics. They don’t watch the time. They don’t watch the clock. They are there to put in their best, to put in their passion, to put in their heart and soul into whatever they are doing.

So again if you think about, it they need to have the core talent, they need to be coachable, they need to have that curiosity and finally an amazing, amazing work ethic. And, if you identify the right questions to ask in your recruitment process to assess the level at which the candidate is playing for all these four elements the chances are very high. A few actually bringing that superstar, the real high talent on-board for your company which clearly enables the future progress for yourself and for the business. I hope that helps and helps you recruit the right kind of talent for your business.

Need A Recruitment Process That Works?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionCountless business owners have successfully used this tried and tested process to find the superstars for their business.

It works. We know it because we’ve done it. Over and over and over again.


The Dirty Secret of Outsourced Marketing

outsource-or-hire-in-house-marketing-executive

“Do most business owners outsource their marketing or do they employ a full-time marketing resource directly?” was a question one of our clients asked during our fortnightly group Implementation and Accountability calls.

“I have two options,” she went on. “On one hand, I have a very good and experienced marketer who has her own company. However, two days of her consultancy costs me as much as having a full time marketing executive at about £22,000!  What do I do?”

“It feels like I’m stuck between getting two days of high-skilled work versus five days of marketing assistance with someone who is much more directly involved with all the processes within the business. But then I have to train and direct and manage this new person. What option makes the most sense for me?”

I told them to take a step back and ask a fundamental and important question here…

What Core Skills Are Required For Your Marketing?

Before you even come close to being able to make a decision on how you are going to build the sales and marketing machine in your business, you need to know what kind of person is required to sit at the centre of that machine. You should sit down with your business partner, or your business coach or mentor – whomever helps you make strategic decisions in your business – and discuss what you actually want from your marketing.

What are your most critical marketing endeavours in the next quarter? The next year? This is a perfect example of where the quarterly strategic planning we do with our clients (and sometimes a few guests) helps to draw conclusions on these sort of things faster and therefore help you make important decisions quicker.

Will you be setting up lead generation funnels? Do you need to rebuild the website? Do you need to release a book and other written content? Are you attacking social media or do you need to learn clever PR hacks?

This can be more overwhelming than you may initially think. To maybe help guide you on this dissection, here are 10 major areas that we have found most medium businesses look at ramping up in order to launch to the next size bracket:

  • Copywriting
  • SEO
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (Google, Facebook Ads etc.)
  • Email Marketing
  • Video Editing
  • Graphic Editing
  • Web Design
  • Social Media Strategies
  • PR & Press Coverage
  • Direct Marketing

That’s definitely not a comprehensive list of everything that your marketing may eventually entail, but it’s a good place to start when building the foundation of your machine. Which item on that list is the most important one for your business?

And so following on from that, what kind of person do you need to run that core part of your sales and marketing machine?

Choose One or Two First

“But I want all of those things in my business! That’s how we’re going to grow,” my very eager client said exasperatedly on the call. “How am I supposed to choose which is most important?”

My first answer was, “Well that’s what me and my team are here for! Let us help guide you through what the value is of these channels, and focus down on the right one for you.” But of course, deciding on what is most important doesn’t necessarily require a coach: it requires focus. What products are you focused on selling this quarter? Who is the target person (not the target audience!) that you are focused on reaching out to this quarter? The choice of marketing channel naturally leads on from your focus.

You know that if you need your site rebuilt, then web design and graphic editing are skills you might need from your marketing person. If you know that you are focusing on an upsell product, you need to reach out to your existing customers, and so you know that copywriting and email marketing are the most important skills.

Get your focus, and then you’ll get to the core of the marketing for your business – and the core skills you need from your marketing person.

So Now What? Do I Hire In-House or Outsource for Those Skills?

The short answer is both!

“Well, I’ve got a list of the skills I need from my marketer – can’t I just hire a junior and train them in those skills? Then I’ll craft someone who’s perfectly suited to my business.” This was what one of my newer clients said on the call.

“But then you have to spend all the time training them and teaching them – which requires a cost in resources that your business probably doesn’t have at this time,” interjected one of my more experienced clients. “Your business is not a training ground right now.”

This client had obviously absorbed something I’d repeated often to my clients: you cannot afford for your business to be a training ground. That doesn’t mean that your employees do not train, grow and learn. On the contrary, you should be crafting a culture of active training, learning, and growing – in areas they are not already experts in. But they should already be experts in something that you need in order to consider them for your business in the first place. You should hire to immediately fill a need in your business, not hire to train someone who adds no immediate value.

And that’s what you need from your first marketing hire. You need someone who already has certain skills that will form the core of your particular marketing direction – whether that’s copywriting, graphic editing, pay per click analysis or whatever is important to your business. Then, if you’ve hired a superstar, they should learn the other areas they are not yet strong in.

In a sentence: you want to hire a specialist, and transform them into a generalist. Look at that list of marketing areas once again. Do you really think you are going to find someone who is an expert in every single one of those areas?

As one of my clients put it: “You’re looking for a unicorn!”

What you are instead looking for is someone who eventually will develop enough knowledge in the other areas of marketing so that they can manage the outsourcing of those areas to other specialists, as and when you need them.

Your business won’t be at training ground for the executive, but it will be a training ground for the manager.

So at the start, you have a marketer who can hit the ground running to set up your marketing foundations, and who can then grow into the marketing manager that manages the addition of new cogs and levers to that initial machine.

Wouldn’t Outsourcing Everything Be Easier?

“Surely I can just be that manager then, right? I could just manage all the outsourced channels for marketing as and when we need them, saving me from hiring in-house. It’s like managing my team, just a wider team.”

My understanding of successful businesses has led me to the conclusion that irrespective of what you do and how you do it, the bedrock of business is a sales and marketing machine. You can be cracking at what you do, but if you cannot communicate to the outside world and educate people as to how your product helps them, you aren’t going to be doing anything.

Therefore, you need to build this capability in-house because your company is growing and you are going to have a lot to handle in the coming months. If you are even considering the next level of your business, then you are probably sitting on some sort of growth track, and you must support that by developing the communication of your product and your brand. This needs to be managed in-house by someone who knows your business, and you trust.

Most business owners can do things faster by themselves, but they can go further with the support of others. I believe if you want to build a really good business, you will need in-house marketing support for the core activities at some point, and that person (or team) should be a ‘hub’ for a lot of peripheral outsourced activity.

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