3 Keys for Business Performance

Having two out of three is not good enough…

There are three key determinants for business performance – direction, aptitude and attitude.

Direction
Performance occurs in context of the goals, outcomes and measures that have been established
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How well are the desired goals and outcomes of the business communicated, and commonly shared and understood?  This needs to be meaningful, relevant and measurable at all levels from the corporate overview to the contribution of departments, teams and at the individual level.

Aptitude
To achieve your goals and outcomes you need to have the necessary skills and abilities which you can use when planning, executing and reviewing.

What are the key skills and capabilities the business needs to have?  What is needed now? And what else is needed to meet the future goals and outcomes of the business?  Again, these need to be identifiable at all levels of the business – from the corporate to the individual level.

Attitude
What are the core attitudes and associated behaviours that we need for driving high performance?

Conversely, what are those attitudes and behaviours that we want to avoid which lead to low performance?  These core attitudes pervade the whole business at all levels and, in themselves, do not change.

Generally, businesses are good at identifying the skills and capabilities needed both now and for the future; mediocre in establishing and establishing a clear vision, goals and outcomes; and very poor at identifying, understanding and making tangible the core attitudes and behaviours needed for performance.

To be a high performer we need to be able to accurately assess how strong we are for each element.  As can be seen in the diagram below, being strong in two out of three is not good enough or able to drive high performance on a sustainable basis.

3 Elements of High Performance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what do we need to do to achieve high performance?

1. Be clear on your direction – make sure everyone understands and can articulate it.

2. Ensure you have the right skills, capabilities and resources to enable each individual, team and group to achieve high performance in their aligned goals.

3. Recruit for and manage people with the right attitudes – understand what your core attitudes and associated behaviours are necessary to drive high-performance in your business, and avoid and manage those which result in low-performance.  Remember, you hire for attitude and train for aptitude.

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3 Tips for Being an Effective Leader

Here are three tips to help you succeed.

  1. Understand what your customers REALLY want going ahead

When planning for how you will evolve your products and services start by sitting down with your best customers and asking them these two questions:

  • “What are the key challenges (good and bad) you will face in the next 12 months?”
  • “If you had a magic want and no limitations, what could we do differently to improve our service to you in the next 12 months?”

The key to discovering the REAL opportunities for your business is to hear their challenges / ideas and translate that into how you can help. What can you add to your service offering that can help them? Sounds simple and it is! Why not grab a lunch or coffee with your top 5 customers prior to year’s end and ask each of them the above questions, you have nothing to lose.

2. Boost your accountability levels
A critical element to strategy implementation is accountability. Great strategies are developed during a planning weekend (or day), and include one page plans for implementation. However when there is no accountability loop, even after all that great work, you tent to find after 1-2 months things have ground to a halt as day-to-day issues get in the way. Building in as a ‘habit’ a two-week accountability loop with key team members for key strategies will ensure it happens as barriers can be discussed and addressed quickly. Making these accountability meetings short and sharp (maximum 30 minutes) every 2 weeks will ensure only strategic issues are discussed and addressed. If you operate by yourself find a coach or a peer you trust and use them for your accountability loop, you will notice the difference quickly.

3. Focus on the outcomes, not the inputs
To ensure that you are not only delivering but exceeding your customers’ expectations, ensure that you know and understand what the outcomes are that they are looking to realise from engaging with you.  Customers are not interested in what you do, rather they are interested in what you help them achieve.  They want results, not deliverables (although deliverables may form part of the output, it is not the reason in itself).  To ensure that you are working on those things that are of importance to the customer make sure you know the outcomes they are looking for, the metrics which you will use to ascertain progress, and what it means to them if they realise the desired outcomes.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Why you need self-confidence, simplicity and speed in business

Why you need self-confidence, simplicity and speed in business

Many businesses, as they grow, develop a bureaucracy. This makes it hard for the business to adapt to the accelerating changes we are experiencing. As Professor Gary Hamel said:

“Today, the most important question for any organisation is this: are we changing as fast as the world around us?”

In the current environment if we do not grow then we do not stagnate, we atrophy. Jack Welch, while he was the Chairman and CEO of General Electric (1981-2001), developed the Three S’s.  According to Welch, the Three S’s are interrelated and mutually supportive and, as such, are a prescription for winning in business.

The Three S’s are:

  1. Self-Confidence. Always believe in yourself.  Embrace change before you have to.  Take consistent action.  You develop self-confidence by gaining experience and winning multiple times.
  2. Simplicity.Reduce things to their simplest level; not simplistic, but simplified.  When communication is clear, it travels faster.  Use clear communication to empower others.  You cannot have simplicity without self-confidence.
  3. Speed.When communication is clear, direct language causes action and decisions to happen faster.  Speed is a competitive advantage.  You cannot have speed without simplicity.

Bureaucracy fosters formality, which slows business down and creates complexity. This makes it harder for your business to change as fast as the world around you. Here you risk becoming irrelevant in business and out-performed by your competitors. So focus on the three Ss and build your self-confidence, develop simplicity and increase your speed.

What to Do If You Are About to Miss Forecasts

What to do when you are coming from behind…

Here is a problem.bridge-photo.png

You are driving along when you come to a bridge that is one kilometer long.  Your goal here is to average 60 kilometers per hour.  Your average speed is 30 kilometers per hour at the half- kilometer mark. How fast do you have to go over the remaining half-kilometer to achieve your goal?

The most common answer is “90 kilometers per hour.” If you have a strong science background you will recognize the task’s impossibility. After all, to average 60 kilometers per hour you have to cross the bridge in one minute and you’ve already burned that minute crossing the first half kilometer.

So what is the point here?

Using the bridge as a metaphor for your achieving your forecast, the point is that if you start a year too slowly, at some point it becomes impossible to hit a forecast.

In the current environment many companies are encountering this more frequently, and leaders often take short-term actions to try and recover, however these actions can seriously impact the business in the long-term

Here are three key tips to keep in mind when you are in this situation:

1. Make sure short-term actions to improve profits don’t impair long-term capacity to grow – don’t let yourself be dictated to by short-term issues to the exclusion of the long-term.  It may be easier, but it will come back to bite.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – when you coming from behind there is often the desire to focus on the “one big thing” to bridge the gap.  We are frequently over-optimistic in our ability to achieve and deliver.  This can mean that if we try for the “one big thing” and we fail, with no plan B in place, then we are then faced with an even bigger gap to overcome in a shorter time.  Focus on a few key priorities which complement each other, but also provide resilience if some of them is not achieved

3. Do more with less – in this situation necessity is the mother of invention.  What can you leverage and utilise to gain strategic advantage and benefits that significantly outweigh the costs, time or resources involved? Implement a process of continuous innovation, “lean” or “agile” thinking and systems.  If you can improve things then systemize them and lock-in the benefits for the future, if you fail then look at how you can learn from this and incorporate the lessons into future efforts.

Following these tips won’t help you cross the bridge at the desired average speed, but they will help make sure you are can cross the next bridge you encounter.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Improving Your Personal Effectiveness

3 Ways to Improve How You Work

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

improve2

We are often so busy doing the work that we forget to take a step back and give ourselves the time to focus and re-energize ourselves.  Here are 3 tips for improving your personal effectiveness, no matter what you do.

1. Boost your personal efficiency
When looking at profit improvement potential (or waste) in a business it is often said it is easy to identify 30% of your current overheads as ‘waste’. The same can be said if you audited yourself for your levels of efficiency. 30% of what you do on a day-to-day basis is waste. Outside the box ways to boost your efficiency are required. Some key tips are:

  • Hire a Virtual Assistant to prevent you performing tasks you don’t have to
  • Stop doing many of the things that are not in the 20% of things you do which create 80% of the benefit
  • Build processes and document all aspects of your business you currently do ‘naturally’ so you can delegate more of what you do
  • Use the latest technology platforms such as Ipads, Livescribe pens and various apps to better collect your notes, ideas, strategies and increase your speed in finding them at a later date

2. Protect your energy levels
Think of the networks of people in business and personally you associate with on a regular basis.  Are these people providing you a boost in your energy levels when you connect with them or are they taking away your valuable energy levels (acting as what we call ‘Energy Vampires’)?  If you have the balance wrong and have a large portion acting as ‘Energy Vampires’ it can have a detrimental effect on your ability to implement change and deliver the outcomes you are seeking.  Perform a quick audit on your circle of business and personal contacts; what do you have to change?

3. What is your ‘theme’ for the next 12 months?
Having a theme for your plans for the next 12 months can help focus more acutely your team, customers and importantly yourself on what’s important when driving strategies / actions. Themes could include: “Innovation”, “Growth”, “Efficiency”, “Profit”, “Downsize”, “Consolidate” or “Improve Life Balance”.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Using the Leadership Grid to be an Adaptive Leader

The Trials of Leadership Styles

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Adapting your leadership style for effective results – balancing task- and people-oriented leadership.

Leadership Styles

When organizing a company meeting what do you, or the individual you have delegated to, do first?  Do you develop the timeline and associated task, or do you consider who would prefer to do what and then try to develop an approach and schedule around their needs?  And how do you respond if you fall behind schedule – do you focus on the tasks or the people?

How you answer the above can reveal your preferred personal leadership style, these can be:

  • Task-oriented – you focus on getting things done, you are more production or task-focused;
  • People-oriented – you want to people to be happy, you are more people-focused;
  • A blend of both.

Neither preference is right or wrong, just as no one type of leadership style is best for all situations. However, it’s useful to understand what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then begin working on developing skills that you or your reports may be missing.

Understanding the Leadership Grid

The Leadership Grid is based on two behavioural dimensions:

  • Concern for People – this is the degree to which a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests, and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
  • Concern for Production – this is the degree to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.

In the Leadership Grip below there are five leadership styles.

  Leadership Grid 2a

The Leadership Grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity.  However, when both people and production concerns are high, employee engagement and productivity increases accordingly.

The Five Leadership Styles

Impoverished Leadership – Low Production/Low People (A)

This leader is mostly ineffective. He/she has neither a high regard for creating systems for getting the job done, nor for creating a work environment that is satisfying and motivating. Often typified by a delegate-and-disappear management style, the leader of manger shows a low concern for both people and production. He (or she) avoids getting into trouble. His main concern is not to be held responsible for any mistakes. Managers use this style to preserve job and job seniority, protecting themselves by avoiding getting into trouble. The result is a place of disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony.

Produce or Perish Leadership – High Production/Low People (B)

Also known as authoritarian or compliance leaders, people in this category believe that employees are simply a means to an end. Employee needs are always secondary to the need for efficient and productive workplaces. There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration. This type of leader is very autocratic, has strict work rules, policies, and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees.  Although results may be achieved in the short-term it is not sustainable in the long-term as employees become disengaged and employee turnover increases.

Middle-of-the-Road Leadership – Medium Production/Medium People (C)

This style seems to be a balance of the two competing concerns. It may at first appear to be an ideal compromise. Therein lies the problem: when you compromise, you necessarily give away a bit of each concern so that neither production nor people needs are fully met. Leaders who use this style settle for average performance and often believe that this is the most anyone can expect.

Country Club Leadership – High People/Low Production (D)

This style of leader is most concerned about the needs and feelings of members of his/her team. These people operate under the assumption that as long as team members are happy and secure then they will work hard. The leader or manager is almost incapable of employing the more punitive, coercive and legitimate powers fearing that using such powers could jeopardize relationships with the other team members. The organization will end up with a friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily very productive due to a lack of direction and control.

Team Leadership – High Production/High People (E)

This is the pinnacle of leadership style. These leaders stress production needs and the needs of the people equally highly. The premise here is that employees are involved in understanding organizational purpose and determining production needs. When employees are committed to, and have a stake in the organization’s success, their needs and production needs coincide. This creates a team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a result, high production.

Applying the Leadership Grid

1.      Identify the Current Leadership Style

What is your current leadership style?  Review past and current situations where you have been the leader.  For each situation mark your position on the matrix.  What themes or trends can you identify?  Why have you put yourself there?  What was the outcome for using that style? Use the template below to assess yourself.

2.      Identify areas of improvement and develop your leadership skills?

Are you more task-focused or people-focused?  How effective are the leadership styles you are using?  Are you in the middle-of-the-road?  If so, do you need to operate outside your comfort zone?  Are you too task-focused?  If so, what people skills do you need to develop?  Are you too people-focused?  If so, what do you need to do develop task-related skills?

Leadership Grid

3.      Monitor, Review and Solicit Feedback

Get others to assist you in this and to share their perspective and reasoning in a constructive manner.  This is an on-going process, not a one-off event.

Summary

Being aware of the various approaches is the first step in understanding and improving how well you or your reports perform as a leader or manager. It can also help you to anticipate how you lead can impact the level of employee engagement either positively or negatively.

At different times and for different situations you will find that you will adapt your leadership style – there is no one style that can be universally applied to produce the results and the people that you want to develop and achieve.  However, the Leadership Grid provides you with a tool by which to assess the alternative styles that are available to you.

Don’t treat the Leadership Grid as the “ultimate truth” – it is only there to provide input for you to consider when trying to determine and understand what is the most effective leadership style for you to use given your situation, the context of the situation (including its seriousness, urgency and whether it will become more acute if left unaddressed), your current skills and capabilities, your experience and your people.

Finally, don’t forget to use this tool with your own reports – a great leader develops his or her people.

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The One Thing You Need to be Successful

And the answer is……

So you want to be successful? But is that enough to be so? We all know that just because you want something does not make it so. Success requires one thing and one thing only – action!

To be successful needs a massive amount of effort on a consistent and ongoing basis – if you are only prepared to work from 9-5 then be prepared to be disappointed with what you achieve, you will fall short of your expectations. This is especially true when you start out when you need overcome a considerable amount of inertia and create momentum.  I am not saying here that you need to be a workaholic doing 16-hour days continuously, but you will have to be prepared to work harder than others so you can be more successful than they are. And you need to work smart in doing so.

Even if you have put in the time and effort necessary to be successful it does not mean that you will be.  Your success is relative to that which other people achieve. This does not make it a zero-sum game, quite the contrary; other people’s success can create the conditions and opportunities for you to be successful. Think of Facebook or Google; neither could have been successful if it had not been for those who had created the Internet. Success is not a fixed pie, where someone else’s success means your opportunity for success is diminished; rather it is a growing pie where success begets more success.

To be successful requires you to take action, and to do so on a scale that is greater than others – not just an incremental effort over and above that of your competitors. If you do this, and you are successful, then is it enough? In short, no. To be successful requires a massive effort, and to continue to be more successful requires even greater effort.

So what do you need to do to be successful and to continue to be successful? The answer is in the question – it is you.  It is you who needs to take action consistently; it is you who needs to be continually self-motivated; it is you who needs to see the setbacks, problems, and difficulties as opportunities to grow and achieve even more; it is you who has to be always hungry and looking to improve what you do and how you do it; it is you who takes responsibility for the results you achieve (or don’t) and looks to improve.

To be successful is a choice. What will you choose?

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here. 

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.