Insights Blog

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

The Measure of a Leader

As the leader in your business, you have probably spent some time defining your team’s key performance indicators. Have you ever considered what your own KPIs should be?

I believe that there are 3 key KPIs that every business leader needs to measure for themselves – and these are very different from a manager’s KPIs.

Leadership is about aligning people to the big picture. Management is about the details of the mechanics and efficiency in the business.

It is only by measuring and tracking your own KPIs for each of these roles that you can truly take your business to the next level.

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, where I want to talk about today is the difference between leadership and management. We’ve seen, very often, leadership and management, they are used very closely and in a very intertwined way. But they have some very distinct features.

Now before we talk about that, a very simple question which I asked my clients, saying that if you are the head of the company, what are your key performance indicators? How would you know that you’re doing a good job as the head of the company, as the business owner? And at this point I really want you to pay attention to three simple key performance indicators that you have as the head of the business and in fact jot them down.

  • The first one is setting the direction of the company. Right, being very clear as to where this company is heading to.
  • The second is actually ensuring that there is network of people. Who are there to deliver on the tasks and products and services?
  • The third one is actually ensuring that people are doing what they have to do.

Let’s recap, the first is setting the direction. The second is ensuring that there is network of people, including your hired people plus the outsourced people, plus the suppliers, the whole network which is required. The third is ensuring people are doing what they have to do now across these three key points, which are the key performance indicators for the head of the business. There are distinctions as far as the leaders concerned and the managers concerned.

Now it’s possible that you’re lucky and you have a co-partner or a co-director who’s actually the complement to your style of working in the business. Or, it’s possible that it’s you who has to wear the hat of both the leader and the manager in the business. Now let’s try to understand as far as setting the direction for the business is concerned.

The leader sets the goal right? Sets the bigger picture, the vision that this is where we are heading to. Where the manager, you as a manager, you’re supposed to be planning and budgeting, you know the small steps. How are we going to go to that end goal?

As far as the creation of the networks of people is concerned, the role of you as a leader is to keep aligning the people to that direction. Wherein, you as a manager you’re supposed to be organizing the talent hiring the talent and managing the performance of that talent which requires a lot of detailing.

Lot of day to day management of the activities of people, and then again ensuring that people are doing what they have to do. The leader is the one. And you as the leader are supposed to be motivating people whether it’s on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, fortnightly, or weekly basis. Wherein you as a manager on a day to day basis, your role is to actually make sure that you’re controlling the problems, you’re preempting the problems, and you are systematizing the solution.

Now if you have been listening to me you will realize that leadership is more about the motivation. It’s about the big picture. It’s about aligning people to that big picture. Wherein the management is more granular, it’s more detailedIt’s controlling the problem, systemizing the solutions. It’s about hiring people and making sure that they are actually getting inducted properly.

About planning, budgeting the details, the orientation of a leader. When you are a leader your orientation should be. Why and what and when you are in your managerial role at that time, your orientation is how you know the details of how we’re going to do that and what I have seen working with different businesses across different sectors.

Generally speaking, business owners are clear as to what they want to achieve. Mostly, yeah, most of the times. But in terms of how to go about achieving that, what is the most efficient manner? I see that you know a lot of mistakes happen and I’m fine with mistakes, but the things which can be avoided should be avoided because at the end of the day if there is a critical success spot, as in the shortest and the most sustainable path from point A to Point B from where you are to where you can be, then I would highly recommend that please get in touch with us so we can sit down and we can identify that what is the best part from where you are to where you can be. Which can help you save time, which can help you save money and, most importantly, which can help you become the best that you can be. Achieved the best that you totally deserve and desire.

Be the best manager and leader you can be.

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIf your business is ready to ascend to that next level of growth, then you may find that the growth begins with you.

Find out if our strategies could be helping you get more efficiently from where you are now to the place you want to be.


How David Increased His Margins

“I’m the only one in the business who seems to be concerned with increasing our margins,” David complained.

I introduced him to a system that worked for hundreds of other businesses to help simplify the process of managing margins.

Within a few weeks it has begun working for David – see if it will work for you too:

You see, by creating a simple breakdown like this, where everything is broken down job-by-job – everything becomes clearer. And it becomes so much easier to have your team look at the numbers as well and immediately see what’s going on.

And as superstar team members, they will naturally start making suggestions on how we can move these numbers upwards – a win-win for everyone!

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 actually about your focus. And what is it that you’re really measuring in your business.

Now I have this client who came for a session and he was a little concerned about the gross margin that he was making in his business and he was like, “Shweta, I keep telling my team members, my estimators, my project managers, ‘Guys, we are not making good margins, we need to make more margins. You know we’re losing money here, we’re losing money there’. But it seems as if I’m the only one who is concerned about the margins. You know they just, get on with whatever they have to do.” It was really fascinating to hear him because this was not the first time I was hearing this – he was focusing on things which he didn’t want.

So I asked him a simple question. I said, “So, tell me David what exactly are you focused on measuring in your business?” This is a relatively new client. So he said, “I’m measuring my top line, my revenue, my sales and I get my management accounts at the end of the month or at the end of the quarter, depending on when I ask for it.”

So I say, “That’s interesting. So what are you sitting down and looking at with your team in your weekly meetings.” I mean that’s a different conversation altogether when I said weekly meetings but he replied, “Not much. I mean I’ve got an intuitive sense for them because I’ve been in the business for a long time so I obviously tell them what’s happening what’s not happening and I expect them to act on it.”

Now after a couple of sessions sitting down we got an idea of the overall concept. And by the way, this is a very coachable client, really willing, really keen has been in the business for a long time a very successful business. But remember that doesn’t mean the fundamentals are being followed. That doesn’t mean that the entire growth has been unlocked or there is sustainability in the business and that’s what you need to think about as I give you an example of this particular client of ours.

So I sat down with David and, look, I totally believe in simplicity of things because the complex thing is to simplify things. So we sat down and after a little bit of working we came up with this simple sheet, okay. I don’t want you to get lost in the sheet. I have hidden the name of the company for the sake of confidentiality. But basically, every job here is being tracked, as in how was it priced, what was the labour, the material and the total margin that was expected, and then what was the actual costing – that’s it. Simple monitoring simple measuring of job by job. What is the margin.?What is the gross profit that we are getting? And also what is the variance, job by job.

As you can imagine now when David sits down with his team members and sitting down with his estimators and project managers and shows them exactly what has happened job by job, he doesn’t have to say much because we can start seeing what’s going on here. Is it how was that project conducted? Is it how the estimation was done? What really happened?

But, you know the interesting about this, is that I asked him after a few weeks of actually implementing this, “So David tell me what is your most important learning for yourself from this activity.” And he said, “Shweta, my learnings are twofold. One is, that whatever I focus on, I get more of. And the second thing is that since the time I’ve started measuring this, it has become so much easier for me to manage my gross margins and profitability of the business”.

So, once again I want to ask you is that what is your top learning from what I’ve shared with you today and what exactly are you focusing on in your meetings, in your business and what are you measuring?

Your Margins Can Probably Also Increase

Our strategies are the kinds that work for businesses which are on the cusp of massive growth but just need the right pushes in the right directions.

Book a free strategic review and find out if our strategies suit where your business is at the moment.

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How to Use Behavioural Styles to Unite Your Team

How to Use Personalities

Three dominant people walk into a meeting room. They all know exactly how to get the job done and are equally vocal about what should be done while struggling to find a way to actually get any work done. They leave the meeting with a decision to just get on and get the work done independently. Sound like a piece from a certain reality TV show? Or have you seen it happen in your own team?

You can avoid this situation on your team easily, by focusing on their behavioural style. Once you know what behavioural style they use, you then need to know what styles are best suited to the roles required in your business. Then you need to match people with the correct behavioural style into those roles.

Dominant behaviours have a place and purpose in your business – they just often need the treated the right way. The ideal environment for a dominant-type is probably not paired with other dominants.

So, if you want your business to be a well-oiled machine, you need to take a look under the skin. Identify what the ideal environment and working partners are for your team, and put them in a position where they have all the right ingredients to become your next superstar.

The Four Behavioural Styles in DiSC

Before we can talk about how behavioural styles are used by business coaches, business consultants and business owners alike to optimise productivity, let me first introduce you to the 4 styles of the DiSC behavioural assessment.

D is for Dominance

These are those who like to take control and dislike inactivity. They are competitive, self-motivated, independent and measured. They don’t tend to factor in “feelings” in their decisions, and often fail to accept advice from team members. They will get a lot done without direction, but usually need their relationships with team members to be managed well.

They are best suited to: administration, decision-making roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Here’s how we do it.”

I is for Influence

The influence styles are people who are spontaneous and are able to make quick decisions. They’re the social lubricant of an office – which means they prefer working with people and shouldn’t be left to work alone. They may get over-excited, generalise and may tend towards dreaming. They may get distracted easily, but they will work exceptionally well in a team and will be naturally persuasive.

They are best suited to: sales and marketing, team roles, client-facing roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s have a meeting to figure out how to do it.”

S is for Steadiness

Slow and steady wins the race is the S behavioural style’s motto. They will take their time in making decisions, so be careful pairing them with an I or D! However, another good S word for these people is “supportive” – they can be an excellent right-hand and can bring a lot of cohesion to a team since they will naturally be empathetic and responsive. They are rarely ambitious or creative, however, so may need pointing in the right direction.

They are best suited to: account management, HR, non-creative roles

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s copy an example.”

C is for Compliance

The C behavioural types are careful and cautious. They will play it safe and only do things when they are sure of the result. They are generally happier to be working in isolation and if they do have to work with people, they will need to be given specifics. Telling a C to “wing it” is how you send them into a panic attack. But ask them to give a detailed analysis and you’ll get the best report you’ve ever seen. They are task-oriented and process-driven. C people are the kinds who will always insist they are correct, and they’ll provide you with a full breakdown of exactly why they’re right – maybe even a pie chart.

They are best suited to: Editing, quality control, roles that require precision and attention-to-detail

They’re the ones who say, “We should only do it according to these projections.”

How to Test for the DiSC Behavioural Types

One of the reasons that I am a fan of the DiSC Behavioural Assessments is that the testing process is extremely easy and speedy. In fact, it only takes about 10 minutes for the participant to fill out the form itself, and you could have the results within an hour.

The test is extremely simple – each question gives 4 collections of adjectives and the participant needs to choose 1 set that is most like them, and 1 set that is least like them. After answering just 24 questions, our system will deliver a full report that will give the person’s ‘natural’ style and their ‘adaptive’ style – i.e. the way they behave in personal contexts, and the way they adjust when they are in work mode.

Optimise Your Team By Blending Behavioural Styles

Now that you understand the behavioural types, it should become easy to see how so many team management issues can often be resolved simply by understanding the behavioural types of the ‘offending’ team members. And then learning how to position your various team members in such a way that they are more comfortable, more satisfied, and more productive.

Do you have a ‘high I’ complaining about someone in the office being rude and abrasive? It’s probably because you’ve put a ‘high D’ with that high I – maybe you should move them into a role where they interact more with a ‘high S’ instead?

But there is so much more than just balancing out the behavioural tendencies in your team that can be gained from understanding the DiSC behavioural styles…

How We Make Use of DiSC Behavioural Styles to Improve Productivity

In coaching businesses over the last few years – and in running our own businesses – I have found there are a number of ways in which DiSC behavioural tests can be used to truly optimise for growth and overall satisfaction.

Here are a few ways that we use the DiSC assessments:

  • Our own team: The most obvious way we use it is to assess our actual team members. Every team member, new and old, has taken a DiSC assessment and that assessment has been shared with everyone else on the team. This ensures that we are all aware of each other’s style and can be understanding of one another’s way of doing things.
  • Our clients: Whenever a new client comes on board, we have all the decision-makers in the business take a DiSC behavioural assessment. This helps dramatically with coaching them to be the best they can be.
  • Clients’ recruitment: When our clients are looking to hire a new team member, we almost always go through the 4-hour recruitment process. A part of that process is getting the recruits to fill out the DiSC assessment to ensure their behavioural type is suited to the role. While we have all of them fill out the assessment, it is the ones who stand out from the other criteria that are processed, so that we can use it as an additional factor (not the determining factor) in the final decision.
  • Non-Clients Independent Assessments: Occasionally, we also have people who are not (yet) clients who request DiSC assessments – along with other core assessments – conducted for themselves or their teams. These can be incredibly helpful as a first step towards galvanising teams that have ground to a halt from unmanaged friction.

The DiSC Platinum Rule

There is an over-arching learning to be gained from DiSC that you may have clued into as you see how we use these assessments.

When you were growing up, your parents (or guardians) may have advised you to follow ‘The Golden Rule’. That is, treat others as we would wish to be treated. And while this sounds like a reasonable sentiment, it is surprisingly ineffective in forming good relationships with the people around you.

The DiSC behavioural assessments give us a way to upgrade this rule to the Platinum Rule – treat others as they wish to be treated.

If you look back at the way we use DiSC assessments with this platinum rule in mind, you can see the paradigm shift that DiSC can give you when it comes to team management. Instead of “finding a way for your team to work together effectively”, you need to shift your thinking to “finding a way to understand how your team will be able to work together effectively.”

Once you understand this subtle, but critical, mind shift, you will most likely find opportunities to build a team that is happier and more productive than ever before.

Is team cohesion a problem for you?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionThere is a certain finesse to managing a team – a skill that can always be honed.

Do you think there is a possibility that your team could be even more productive than they are right now?


Should You Promote Your Best Employees?

We were recently doing a deep dive analysis of the specific reasons that had driven our client to their best year ever in 2017. One of the key reasons was that their top performing sales superstar had been bringing in a consistent flow of new business. As further growth was part of their 2018 plans, they were considering hiring more salespeople. 

More critically, to keep their star salesperson motivated, they thought it makes perfect sense to reward her with more responsibility by promoting her to sales manager to manage the incoming employees.

Here’s why that may be a really bad idea and could actually be doing their superstar a disservice.

Before you consider promoting someone to a new position in your business, be very clear that the person you’re promoting actually has the know-how, the understanding, the skill set, and the desire to actually do the job you are now setting them to do.

Remember, you don’t manage people, you manage the activities of your people. And if you are unclear about what activities they can and cannot do, you could be cutting off your own legs.

There are important decisions you need to make as the leader of your business – and filling the roles in your business are the pivotal ones that can make or break your business. Take your time with it, and be careful with it. It will be more than worth the effort.

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 this whole ‘promoting-within’ culture.

Now I totally understand that for our people to be excited, they should know that they have chances of progressing within the company. And as the owner of the business, yes, that’s the first place where you should look at when there are promotions or vacancies within the business. But at the same time what I’m seeing very often is that many business owners think that that’s the only option.

In fact it’s a lazy option. And many of the business owners take that route, where a person is doing well, business is growing and now they want to actually have someone to supervise, say, multiple sites or multiple team members. They will look at that superstar or they look at their most loyal person and actually promote them.

Now a couple of things could happen. You could actually have the superstar become a super-superstar and actually release time and room within the business for yourself. But generally what happens is that when it’s done in a lazy way, and I’m being very upfront about it, when it’s done in a lazy way and not enough thought has been put into it, then you simply end up promoting your superstar to his or her level of incompetence. Now that’s a very key point that I’m just mentioning here – that you end up holding people to their level of incompetence.

Think about it like this. If there’s a sales superstar and the person is doing well and now they want to grow in the organization. The temptation is to promote them to sales manager, who can manage a set of other salespeople. But then it could be that that’s not the right profile that the sales superstar has. It could be that they’re actually not good at managing activities of people.

So what I’m really trying to explain here is that when you are promoting people within, be very clear that the personalities fit the requirements of that position, and that the person will actually do well. Make sure you’re not converting your feelings towards a member into an overhead for the business just because you think that’s the option you should be going for.

I have had many such instances where the costs have shot up and the performance has gone down with such simple decisions. At the same time I’ve had situations with clients where this was the best decision. So please be very mindful when you promote within because it has to be a strategic decision and not a lazy decision.

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Stop Answering Your Team’s Questions

team-management-business-coaching-questions

Why do you build a team in your business?

To increase the impact the business can make together? To focus into the work that you should be doing? To move closer towards the vision you’ve set? To have more time to spend on other things you love without worrying that the business would fall apart?

If these reasons resonate with you, and you’re still working 70-80 hours a week, you need to ask yourself – is your team working the way you want it to?

Often, as a business mentor in London, I come across leaders who have this exact predicament, and it is usually one of the main things we work on together. Often the biggest constraint I find is that the business owner is the ‘Superman/ Superwoman’ in the business. They are ready to fly in to solve every problem!

The key giveaway is often: you are answering too many of your team’s questions.

How to get your team to think for themselves

Before you rush to close your office door and refuse to speak to anyone in your team, let me be clear. There are definitely questions that your team should be asking you. However, there are also questions they are asking you because they are trying to absolve themselves of responsibility from making a decision (or do not realise they are allowed to make that decision).

And that’s where the fix needs to happen.

Team management is one of the biggest areas business coaches and business consultants in London work on as this is one of the trickiest areas for business leaders to get right.

There are simple 3 actions that I advise my business coaching clients to do in order to move their team towards independence:

1. Get the team used to coming up with their own answers

Sometimes, employees can get used to having answers handed to them on a plate. It is not that they do not know the answer, but rather that they do not realise they should be coming up with it themselves. At the first moment of uncertainty, their instinct is to ask you for the answer.

Every time someone on your team asks you a question, you need to be able to identify whether it is an actual request for information that you have and they do not have, or whether they simply do not want to be (or do not know they can be) responsible for the outcome.

If you think that it is the latter, then you shouldn’t be giving them the answer. Instead, bat the question back to them – ask them something like, “What do you think you should do?” This gently forces them to make the decision for themselves in front of you.

By taking this approach (and sticking to it), your team will soon understand the areas where they should be taking their own initiative, and where they should be coming to you for help. Eventually, they will rule out the option of coming to you when they don’t need to because they already know they are going to be asked to make the decision themselves anyway.

Without creating this habit, you may find yourself constantly fielding questions instead of actually getting work done. Rather than saving you time, your team would then be causing you more work and stress than if you just handled the work yourself. So what would be the point in having the team, right?

2. Instil a culture of ‘advice’ rather than ‘permission’

Of course, your employees might only come to you for decision-making purposes because they think they have to get permission. This is an extremely common situation, especially with new business leaders.

How to overcome this is to make it clear to your team that they are allowed to make decisions without asking you, if they feel they have adequate information available to do so, or if it is not in an area that you have explicitly told them they need to obtain permission for (something like spending the budget, for example).

You could suggest that, if they do need advice, they first turn to their colleagues, as they might be able to provide all the guidance and information needed to make a decision.

While it is important that your employees feel they can come to you for your input on big decisions, they should feel confident making smaller, less critical decisions. That means that when there are critical decisions to be made, you can make those decisively without it being lost in a flood of other decisions that you didn’t really have to make.

3. Make yourself unavailable from time to time

You might be viewed by your team as a sort of safety net that is there to answer their questions or to reaffirm the answer they already know is the right one. If you take this safety net away, they will have no choice but to think for themselves, and take actions without consulting you every time.

As such, it may be beneficial to make it so that your team is unable to contact you every so often so that your employees get used to keeping the business running without you there.

I have mentioned before how being a ‘got a minute’ boss could be massively impacting your productivity. So although you might think it as friendly and encouraging to say ‘my door is always open’, it can actually be more beneficial for both you and your team to keep it closed occasionally.

Once you master these three ways of getting your team to stand on their own feet, there will be a number of benefits. Besides the obvious freeing of your time and reduction of your stress levels, you will also find that you have more headspace to spend on strategising and future planning – meaning you can take your business further and grow it to the next level that you desire.

When you have a business that remains a profitable enterprise without your constant intervention, then you have built a business that is an asset and not just a long and tiring job you’ve created for yourself.

Is Your Business An Asset?

Once a year, Brad Sugars – founder of ActionCOACH and one of the most successful business owners in the world – does a tour of the UK to share his strategies for building businesses that run as assets.

In 2017 he’ll be coming in October and we highly recommend taking the opportunity to immerse yourself in that educational environment.


Did You Miss This Step For Your Last Hire?

How do you figure out if someone can actually do the job that you’re hiring for?

You don’t want to have to wait until after you’ve hired them and put them through their induction before you find out they could talk the talk but not walk the walk, do you?

You might think that the easiest way to filter out for the best candidates is to advertise with a higher salary to indicate a more ‘senior’ position.

Maybe not. Let me explain the simple process my client used to filter out three very strong candidates for his bookkeeping role…

You can see that this applies to literally any job you are hiring for – sales, marketing, operations, business development. Don’t just read the cover letter (I mean, does anyone even read them anyway?) and the CVs… Put them to a good, well-crafted test and you may just find it easier to start hiring some superstars!

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 fact, I’ve just come out of a coaching session with my client and that was a very interesting one, so I thought I need to share this with you. My client actually has been trying to hire a finance person who could do bookkeeping, can work with sage, can do basic reporting, and just a reconciliation, follow up on, you know, the outstandings and so on and so forth.

Before we started working together he hadn’t seen much success in hiring for this position. So he was like “Shweta there’s this position I need to fill. I’ve not been very successful. And how do I go about this?” So I obviously started asking a few questions just to figure out his process. And at one point I told him, I said “Adam, the issue is that you are not deselecting enough in your selection process.” Like what? What do you mean? Deselecting in selection process? I said yes, in recruitment the main thing that you need to do is to de-select very quickly and very confidently. And he said OK, so yeah I do ask questions but how do you know that someone knows the subject or not because they all claim they do? So that’s very easy.

What I helped him implement is simple interventions, simple. Loop or hoop, whatever you want to call it. So we want to check, for example in this position, can the person speak proper English? That’s easy right? Because they talk. Can they write well right? The email communication, there’s a simple document with four questions which the candidate needs to answer. Very simple, straightforward, tells us about their written English. Then we want to check their technical strength. And in fact Adam very smartly prepared ten multiple choice questions that shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes for someone who knows the subject to complete very successfully.

I mean questions like– I’ve kept it open here, what tax code do you use on an exempt transaction? And there four choices. What nominal code range are sales normally? And and so on and so forth. I have no idea about the answers, but I’m not supposed to know this. The person whose good will know the answers.

Now once you have these documents in place and you go to the answers, you know who your deselecting and who you’re moving forward for the final round, which is exactly what he has done. He has got three solid candidates who have scored like really high marks on all the tests and now I’m very certain that Adam will be able to successfully fill this position and this person will do a great job.

Now what I want you to understand is that it’s not just for this finance position. Whether it’s marketing, whether it’s sales, whether it’s operations, whether projects, you name it. Any position in your company you need to learn how to de-select people rather than just listening to words and big claims. Make sure you put your candidates to test so that you can assess for yourself if they understand the subject, understand the position or not. And once you’re clear as to who you’re hiring and what they need to know it’s very easy to put those tests in place. But please make sure because remember if you learn how to de-select rigorously then getting superstars on board is relatively easier.

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